Children Drinking One or More Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Per Day
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Learn More About Nutrition

Measures of Nutrition on Kidsdata.org
Kidsdata.org offers the following nutrition-related indicators:
Notes:
  1. Percentage of children drinking one or more sodas or other sugar-sweetened beverages comes from a California Center for Public Health Advocacy re-analysis of California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) data. For more information, visit: http://www.publichealthadvocacy.org/stillbubblingover.html.
  2. Percentage of children who ate fast food two or more times in the past week and who eat five or more servings of fruits/vegetables daily comes from CHIS. For more information and local data, visit: http://healthpolicy.ucla.edu/chis.
  3. Student reports of whether they ate breakfast come from the California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) and California Student Survey (CSS). For more information and to access school district, county, and state reports, visit: http://chks.wested.org/reports/search.
  4. Staff reports on the availability of healthy food choices come from the California School Climate Survey (CSCS). For more information and to access school district, county, and state reports, visit: http://cscs.wested.org/reports/search.
Nutrition
Breastfeeding
Food Security
Physical Fitness
Weight
Why This Topic Is Important
Proper nutrition in childhood and adolescence promotes healthy growth and development (1). A nutritious diet over the course of life can help prevent high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and can help reduce the risk of developing conditions such as osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and dental cavities (1).

Eating breakfast can promote proper nutrition. Children who eat breakfast have higher daily intakes of key vitamins and minerals, and tend to make healthier food choices throughout the day (2). In addition, eating a nutritious breakfast is associated with improved cognitive functioning, mood, and school attendance (1, 2).

Conversely, a poor diet can have long-term, negative health consequences (1). For example, consuming fast food and sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with higher risk of becoming overweight and obese, among other health problems (1, 3).

For more information on nutrition, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.

Sources for this narrative:

1.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Nutrition and the health of young people. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/nutrition/facts.htm

2.  BreakfastFirst. (2013). The benefits of breakfast: Health & academics. California Food Policy Advocates. Retrieved from: http://breakfastfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/BenefitOfBreakfast-Factsheet-2013.pdf

3.  Babey, S. H., Wolstein, J., & Goldstein, H. (2013). Still bubbling over: California adolescents drinking more soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages. UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and California Center for Public Health Advocacy. Retrieved from: http://publichealthadvocacy.org/_PDFs/stillbubblingover/PolicyBrief.pdf

How Children Are Faring
In 2011-13, only 62% of California public school students in grades 7, 9, 11, and non-traditional students reported that they had eaten breakfast in the past day. Responses differed by grade, race/ethnicity, and gender. Specifically, 66% of 7th graders, 62% of 9th graders, and 61% of 11th graders in California reported that they ate breakfast in the past day. Non-traditional students (i.e., those enrolled in Community Day Schools or Continuation Education) had the lowest percentages: 51% in 2011-13. In addition, 70% of white and Asian students reported that they ate breakfast in the past day, the highest among racial/ethnic groups, while Latinos reported the lowest percentage (58%). A higher percentage of boys than girls in California reported eating breakfast in the past day in 2011-13 in each grade and overall. 

In 2011-13, 66% of elementary school staff in California reported that they "Agreed" or "Strongly Agreed" that their school provides students with healthy food choices, the highest percentage among school types. Agreement was lowest among staff at Non-Traditional and K-12 schools (51%).

According to a 2011-12 California survey, more than half (53%) of children ages 2-11 ate five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily, up from 48% in 2009. While the figure for youth ages 12-17 was substantially lower, at 26%, it also increased from 20% in 2009. The same 2011-12 survey found that about a third (37%) of children and teens ages 2-17 ate fast food two or more times in the past week, similar to previous years.

About 41% of California children and youth ages 2-17 drink sugary beverages on a daily basis, according to the 2011-12 survey, with county-level figures ranging from 21% to 60%. Among teens ages 12-17, two-thirds (65%) reported drinking one or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day; parent reports for younger children were much lower, at 32% for ages 6-11 and 19% for ages 2-5.
Compared to the previous survey time period of 2005-2007, reports of daily sugary drink consumption among teens increased significantly in 2011-12, but decreased for children ages 6-11 and 2-5. Among racial/ethnic groups, almost three quarters of African American and Latino teens reported daily consumption of sugary beverages in 2011-12 (74% and 73%, respectively), compared to 63% for Asian and multiracial youth and 56% for white teens. 
Policy Implications

Lifetime dietary habits are established at a young age. School and community food and nutrition policies can encourage healthful choices, increasing the likelihood of long-term health (1, 2, 3). Student food intake needs to include a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Children and youth should minimize consumption of sugary beverages and fast food, which are linked to poor health outcomes, including unhealthy weight gain and obesity (1, 4).

Poor dietary habits have been shown to substantially affect student achievement, making nutrition a priority for school performance (2, 5). Many California schools participate in the federal School Breakfast Program, which, like the School Lunch Program, subsidizes meals that are provided at little or no cost to low-income students. Although many children do not eat a daily nutritious breakfast at home, the School Breakfast Program is underutilized, particularly in comparison to the School Lunch Program (6).

According to research and subject experts, policy-related actions that could improve children’s consumption of healthy food include:
  • Utilizing authority under state and federal law to increase participation in Child Nutrition Programs, including the School Breakfast, School Lunch, Summer Food Service, and At-Risk Afterschool Meal Programs; this includes implementing strategies such as making breakfast part of the school day and providing universal free school meals, which can be offered through federal provisions including "community eligibility," where high-poverty schools can provide meals at no charge to all students (6, 7)
  • Increasing awareness among all school stakeholders — including parents, teachers, students, and administrators — about the links between healthful eating habits, weight, cognitive function, academic performance, and school finances; this includes incorporating nutrition education into health curriculum for students (1, 2, 5, 6)
  • Implementing and expanding programs that promote healthful eating during early childhood, such as trainings for child care providers on health and nutrition, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program, which helps to provide nutritious meals and snacks to children in day care (7, 8)
  • Promoting cross-sector, comprehensive strategies to reduce consumption of sugary beverages and increase the availability of healthy, affordable food options for children and families, particularly in low-income communities; this may include attracting retailers of nutritious food (e.g., grocery stores) to locate in under-served areas; it also could include increasing the availability of healthy options for children in restaurants (3)
  • Supporting efforts to implement common standards for marketing beverages and food to children and youth (3)

For more policy ideas and research on this topic, see the Research & Links section on kidsdata.org or visit California Food Policy Advocates, BreakfastFirst, and the Food Research & Action Center. Also see Policy Implications on kidsdata.org under the topics Family Income & Poverty and Food Security.

Sources for this narrative:

1.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Nutrition and the health of young people. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/nutrition/facts.htm

2.  BreakfastFirst. (2013). The benefits of breakfast: Health & academics. California Food Policy Advocates. Retrieved from: http://breakfastfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/BenefitOfBreakfast-Factsheet-2013.pdf

3.  Institute of Medicine. (2012). Accelerating progress in obesity prevention: Solving the weight of the nation. Retrieved from: http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=13275

4.  Babey, S. H., Wolstein, J., & Goldstein, H. (2013). Still bubbling over: California adolescents drinking more soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages. UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and California Center for Public Health Advocacy. Retrieved from: http://publichealthadvocacy.org/_PDFs/stillbubblingover/PolicyBrief.pdf

5.  Action for Healthy Kids. (2013). The learning connection: What you need to know to ensure your kids are healthy and ready to learn. Retrieved from: http://www.actionforhealthykids.org/media-center/reports/706-the-learning-connection-what-you-need-to-know-to-ensure-your-kids-are-healthy-and-ready-to-learn

6.  Hewins, J., & Burke, M. (2014). School breakfast scorecard: School year 2012-13. Food Research and Action Center. Retrieved from: http://frac.org/pdf/School_Breakfast_Scorecard_SY_2012_2013.pdf

7.  U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. (2010). Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Retrieved from: http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/governance/legislation/cnr_2010.htm

8.  California Food Policy Advocates. (2013). AB290 (Alejo): Foundations for healthy nutrition in child care. Retrieved from: http://cfpa.net/ab290
Websites with Related Information
Key Reports
County/Regional Reports
More Data Sources For Nutrition