Date Published: 25 August 2009
New safefood report highlights role of drinks in daily calorie intake
A new report that gives insights into what parents of young children and teenagers themselves think about drinks has revealed that parents do not count drinks as part of their children’s daily food consumption. The report, commissioned by safefood, also revealed that parents and teenagers shared a number of similar concerns but had very different purchasing patterns in terms of where they bought drinks, what drinks they bought, and also what influenced them in making these decisions.
Commenting on the report, Dr. Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director, Human Health and Nutrition safefood said,
" This research clearly shows that we as consumers have a bit of a blind spot about the contribution of liquids to our daily calorie intake. Many soft drinks on the market contain a lot of ‘added’ sugars and few nutrients for example, sweetened fruit juice drinks and fizzy soft drinks. Water, milk and pure, unsweetened fruit juice drinks are the healthiest drink options and any other drink should be seen as a ‘treat’. "
In addition, the report revealed that parents know milk and water are the healthiest options as drinks and that when parents made changes to the drinks they bought, their children adapted.
" Both parents and teenagers indicated that mindless consumption plays a huge role in what they eat and drink ", continued Dr. Foley-Nolan.
“ Teenagers said they always needed ‘a drink’ while they were hanging out, watching television or socialising with one another. It also emerged that the consumption of many drinks was down to habit and what children/teenagers were used to. Many parents said they tried to reduce the number of fizzy drinks being purchased and were quite successful at doing this. When they made positive changes to the type of drinks consumed, despite some initial resistance, their children adapted and got used to it quite easily " she added.
A common dilemma expressed by those surveyed for the report was that parental control over food intake is somewhat lost as children reach a certain age. The research indicated that teenagers were influenced by image, advertising and cost when choosing their drinks. The power of brand advertising and celebrity endorsement of certain drinks were seen as major reasons why young people choose certain drinks. Parents expressed the belief that the marketing and pack formats of certain drinks were attractive to children and that these factors encouraged their children to consume these drinks.
" We know from dietary intake research who consumes what type of drinks. This research reveals that parents feel that a sugary drink is more favourable than a sugary food as a treat and both, parents and teenagers, seem to ignore the significant calorie counts of many of the drinks consumed in our schools and homes", said Dr. Foley-Nolan.
“ It also highlights the challenges faced by parents when purchasing soft drinks for their children and the influence of advertising on their purchasing habits”, she added.
Source: safeFood (Ireland).