Study: Tulare County's youth are drinking less sugary drinks

A new study by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA) and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research shows that the overall consumption of sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) by children here in Tulare County has fallen from 54 to 49 percent.

“Limiting the consumption of SSBs, including sports and energy drinks, will help protect our children and adolescents from rising rates of obesity and early-onset diabetes and will lower the rates of children who must enter the health care system early for these health issues,” said Tulare County Public Health Officer, Dr. Karen Haught.

The report shows that in 2011-12, 49 percent of Tulare County children ages 2-17 drank at least one or more sugar-sweetened beverage per day. In 2005-07, that number was 54 percent.

Tulare County Programs Helping Children

Two Tulare County Health & Human Service programs that seek to reduce the consumption of SSBs are the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention (NEOP) program and the CA4Health program. Both programs seek to educate residents about negative health impact of SSBs and provide healthy alternatives that taste good and are nutritious. The CA4Health program assists school districts to increase student access to water and decrease access to SSBs through changing school wellness policies. The NEOP program promotes access to healthy food and beverages and just one of the campaigns is the "Rethink Your Drink" effort at schools and child care centers.

According to the CCPHA, SSB consumption rates varied from county to county, but major disparities were revealed between ethnicities. The rates for adolescents who drink at least one SSB a day were 74 percent for African Americans, 73 percent of Latinos, 63 percent for Asians, and 56 percent of whites.

Additionally, the CCPHA cautioned about an spike for all state counties in adolescent consumption of SSBs, including energy and sports drinks, which can lead to increased obesity and diabetes.

The CCPHA notes that nearly 40 percent of California children are overweight or obese and they state that it is vital that parents, educators, health professionals, businesses and policymakers work together to continue to identify and implement strategies to reduce SSB consumption. Tulare County HHSA encourages parents to limit the amount of SSBs that are available to their children and explore other drink choices of higher nutritional value.

This study was made possible by The California Endowment, a private statewide health foundation. More information can be found at www.publichealthadvocacy.org.