Previous research has identified racial and ethnic disparities for sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption among youth, but information about the preferred types of SSB within these racial and ethnic groups is limited. The purpose of this research was to characterize the SSB intake among different racial and ethnic groups. Twenty-four-hour recall data were obtained from children and adolescents aged 5- 17 years-old (n= 6507) from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Average SSB intake for the underlying populations were estimated, and multivariable regression models were developed among age groups by race/ethnicity (Mexican American, Other Hispanic, White, Black, Asian American and Other) .

Results showed that almost 2/3 of all youth reported consuming an SSB on a given day with an average intake of 15 oz for children and 21 oz for adolescents. Among children, racial/ethnic results showed Black and Other had the greatest SSB intake (16 oz /day) and Asian American had the least SSB intake (10 oz /day). Fruit-flavored drinks were the greatest source of SSB intake among all groups except Mexican Americans and White, in which soft drinks were the greatest source. Among adolescents, White and Other reported the greatest amount of SSB (White, 23 oz /day; Other 22 oz /day) and Asian Americans consumed the least (13 oz /day). For Black adolescents, the greatest source of SSB was fruit-flavored drinks. For all other groups, soft drinks were the largest source.

Study strengths: This is the first national study to closely assess SSB consumption among racial/ethnic groups. In previous research, Asian Americans have been under-sampled, and this study included adequate sampling of this group.

Study limitations: Culturally relevant drinks (aloe and boba tea) for Asian Americans were not included as part of the NHANES 24-hour recall. Additionally, 24-hour recalls may not represent usual consumption.

What this means for your practice: Experts recommend limiting added sugar to <10% of total daily calories. A major source of added sugar for children and adolescents is SSB. Directing interventions to decrease fruit-flavored drinks among children and soft drinks among adolescents while encouraging water intake is needed. This may include education of young patients and their parents, in addition to policies and practices that make healthful drink choices convenient and appealing. Rethink Your Drink has resources for your patients on how to decrease SSB and increase healthful drinks for the whole family.

Original citation: Russo, R. G., Northridge, M. E., Wu, B., & Stella, S. Y. (2020). Characterizing Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption for US Children and Adolescents by Race/Ethnicity. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, 1-17.

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