Young children’s screen habits are associated with consumption of sweetened beverages independently of parental norms

Abstract

Objectives

This study investigated the associations between children’s screen habits and their consumption of sweetened beverages. Because parents might be disposed to regulate their child’s screen and dietary habits in a similar direction, our specific aim was to examine whether these associations were independent of parental norms.

Methods

In the Swedish sample of the European Identification and prevention of dietary and lifestyle-induced health effects in children and infants (IDEFICS) study, parents filled in questionnaires about their 2 to 9-year-old children’s (n = 1,733) lifestyle and diets.

Results

Associations between screen habits and sweetened beverage consumption were found independent of parental norms regarding sweetened beverages. A longitudinal analysis revealed that sweetened beverage consumption at 2-year follow-up was predicted by exposure to commercial TV at baseline (OR 1.4, 95 % CI 1.1–1.9). Cross-sectional analysis showed that the likelihood of consuming sweetened beverages at least 1–3 times per week increased for each hour/day watching television (OR 1.5, 95 % CI 1.2–1.9), and for being exposed to commercials (OR 1.6, 95 % CI 1.3–2.1). TV viewing time and commercial exposure contributed to the associations independently of each other.

Conclusions

The results strengthen the assumption that it is possible to influence children’s dietary habits through their TV habits.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by The Swedish council for working life and social research. The study was conducted as part of the IDEFICS study (http://www.idefics.eu). We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the European Community within the Sixth RTD Framework Programme Contract No. 016181. We have received grant support from the European Union for the IDEFICS study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.

Ethical standard

This study complies with Swedish legislation. Approval by the appropriate ethical committees has been obtained. Both the children and their parents gave their consent.

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Correspondence to Steingerdur Olafsdottir.

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Olafsdottir, S., Eiben, G., Prell, H. et al. Young children’s screen habits are associated with consumption of sweetened beverages independently of parental norms. Int J Public Health 59, 67–75 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00038-013-0473-2

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Keywords

  • Children
  • Television
  • Advertisements
  • Soft drinks
  • Parents
  • Family
  • Food habits