Soda Consumption Down Among Kids -- But Fizzing Up Among Teens, Study Shows

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A study that will, all but certainly, be at some point brandished by Supervisor Eric Mar in a forthcoming crusade against sugary beverages being slurped down by children was released at the stroke of midnight today. 

You can read the study, the product of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, right here. The upshot: While overall consumption of sodas and other such drinks is down 11 percent overall among California children, it's fizzing up among 12- to 17-year-olds. The most recent data from the California Health Interview Survey indicates that 65 percent of adolescents are knocking back one or more sodas a day -- an 8 percent spike from just eight years back. 

The data, gleaned since 2005 via tens of thousands of interviews, even breaks down juvenile soda consumption on a county-by-county basis. Sadly, not every last county is listed; there may not be much to do for a 17-year-old in Modoc County but guzzle RC Colas, and it'd be interesting to see if that holds forth in the numbers.  

San Francisco, however, makes an appearance. And some of its data, unlike the beverages in question, are flat. 

Between 2005 and 2007, 48 percent of the 12-to-17-year-old San Franciscans drank one or more sodas a day. And, in the 2011-2012 iteration of the survey, an identical 48 percent were imbibing at that frequency.  

Grading on the curve, San Francisco didn't do half bad; overall consumption among that age group was, as noted earlier, up 8 percent. And the city's experience appears to be in line with that of other locales housing sugar-consuming adolescents. The study's authors blame the uptick among teens on increasingly popular sports and energy drinks. San Francisco in May took the unusual step of suing Monster Energy Drinks over the company's penchant for "aggressively market[ing] to youth in a way that encourages over-consumption of the product."

The city's data among younger children in the most recent survey was deemed "not statistically reliable," making comparisons difficult. When survey data from 2009 was blended in, however, San Francisco's percentage of kids aged 2 to 17 drinking a soda or more a day -- 21 percent -- was the lowest in the state. 

That's cause for celebration! How about a Fresca?

The policy suggestions pushed by the study are as as unsurprising as they are sensible: Keep sodas, sports drinks, and energy drinks out of schools; provide alternatives; and crack down on marketing sugary beverages to kids. 

The clock is ticking, Supervisor Mar.
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When it comes to health and wellness, balancing moderate calorie intake of all foods and beverages with physical activity is key. The beverage industry promotes healthy, active and balanced lifestyles in a number of ways. In schools, our industry voluntarily implemented national School Beverage Guidelines, replacing full-calorie beverages with low-calorie options in smaller portion sizes. Due to these concerted efforts, we’ve effectively cut the number of beverage calories in schools by 90%: Our industry also offers myriad beverage choices in an array of calories and sizes so that individuals and parents can choose the beverages that are right for them and their families.

Lastly, the beverage industry has a long-standing commitment to responsible marketing and advertising practices. For example, our member companies adhere to strict, self-imposed guidelines that prohibit them from airing advertisements for any products other than juice, water and milk-based products to any audience comprised primarily of children under the age of 12.

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