Saturday, November 24, 2012

Micro-level economic factors and incentives in children's obesogenic behaviors

To date, most research on environments that may encourage children to eat too much and move too little, i.e. so-called obesogenic environments, has focused on physical and socio-cultural environments. Such environments determine what foods and physical activity opportunities are available and accessible (physical environment) and what is socially and culturally appropriate, acceptable and encouraged.The role of economic factors has been investigated to a much lesser extent. Our objective was to explore the association of micro-level economic factors and incentives with sports activities and intake of soft drinks and fruit juice in 10-12 year-old school children across Europe, and to explore price sensitivity in children's soft drink consumption and correlates of this price sensitivity. This study that was part of the ENERGY project was just published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.
Data for the study originate from a cross-sectional survey undertaken in seven European countries (Belgium, Greece, Hungary, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia and Spain) in 2010 among more than 7000 10-12 year-old school children and 6000 of their parents
Economic factors were found to be associated with children's sports participation and sugary drink consumption. Parents' financial support was found to be an important correlate of children's sports activities i.e. children whose parents financially supported their sports activities were more likely to engage in sports. Children's pocket money was a strong correlate of soft drink consumption; more pocket money was associated with more soft drinks. The majority of the responding children reported to expect that significantly higher prices of soft drinks would lead them to buy less soft drinks.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Family influences on children's soft drink and juice intakes

With the recently published paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, the evidence that sugary drinks contribute to unnecessary weight gain in children and adolescents is becoming more and more convincing.
The aim of a study we just published in e-pub in the scientific journal Appetite was to investigate associations of family-related factors with children's fruit drink/juice and soft drink consumption. We used the ENERGY study data from >7000 11 year old children and one of their parents from eight countries across Europe. We analyzed if the children's self-reported fruit drink/juice and soft drink intake and a range of family environment and parenting factors were associated. We looked at such factors as parental modeling (i.e. parents' own juice and soft drink intakes), availability of juice and soft drinks at home, whether parents monitored their children's intakes, their self-efficacy, parents' permissiveness, negotiations regarding intakes, communicating health beliefs, et cetera. Three of the 11 family-related factors considered (modeling, availability, and family consumption) were positively associated with children's fruit drink/juice and soft drink intake. Thus, children's intakes were on average higher when their parents had high intakes themselves, when drinks were readily available at home, and when family consumption was higher. Additionally, three other factors (permissiveness, monitoring, and self-efficacy) were solely associated with soft drink intake, i.e. children of parents who were more permissive regarding soft drinks, and who did not monitor children's intakes, and with lower self-efficacy drank more soft drinks. These results contribute to the body of evidence regarding the importance of the home environment for children's soft drink intakes. Most interventions aiming at contributing to the promotion of health behaviors in school-aged children are school-based and fail to involve the family; our study once more points to the importance of family, and especially parent, involvement.