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Sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption among youth contributes to diet-related chronic disease including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and poor oral health.
To better understand attitudes related to access, availability, and consumption of SSBs by conducting virtual focus groups among youth in North Carolina.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
Youth ages 11-17 in communities with a high proportion of SNAP eligible households were selected to participate in virtual focus groups during the summer of 2021. Semi-structured focus groups were used to explore youth perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors around SSBs and SSB messaging.
Focus group discussions centered around general health perceptions; SSB perceptions and behaviors; information sources and messaging preferences; and reactions to previous SSB campaign materials and messages. A thematic analysis was used to summarize knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions around SSBs and advertising preferences.
Thirty-six youth participated across 4 focus groups. Parents/caregivers influenced youth the most when it came to making beverage choices. Positive SSB opinions included liking the taste and the association with special times and social events. Negative opinions focused on associated health risks (diet-related chronic disease and poor oral health). Some youth acknowledged SSBs were not healthy but suggested they could be consumed occasionally. Very few participants mentioned any benefits from SSBs; those that mentioned benefits stated they provided energy, replaced electrolytes, and tasted good. Youth suggested SSB campaigns focus on short- and long-term health consequences. Youth saw advertising about health topics through a range of channels; however, youth were mixed on whether they paid attention.
Findings provide several key insights that can contribute to the development of messages aimed at curbing SSB consumption. For example, focusing on catching youth attention, and sharing short- and long-term health consequences of high SSB consumption resonated with youth, but occasional SSB intake was not seen as consequential.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - Education.
© 2022 Published by Elsevier Inc.