Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Consumption patterns of sweet drinks in a population of Australian children and adolescents (2003–2008)

Britt W Jensen123*, Melanie Nichols4, Steven Allender45, Andrea de Silva-Sanigorski6, Lynne Millar4, Peter Kremer7, Kathleen Lacy4 and Boyd Swinburn4

Author Affiliations

1 Research Unit for Dietary Studies, Institute of Preventive Medicine, Copenhagen Capital Region, Copenhagen University Hospital, Frederiksberg, Denmark

2 Centre for Research in Childhood Health, Institute of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark

3 Centre for Intervention Research in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (previous: Centre for Applied Research in Health Promotion and Prevention), The National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen K, Denmark

4 WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia

5 Department of Public Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom

6 Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

7 School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:771  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-771

Published: 12 September 2012



Intake of sweet drinks has previously been associated with the development of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents. The present study aimed to assess the consumption pattern of sweet drinks in a population of children and adolescents in Victoria, Australia.


Data on 1,604 children and adolescents (4–18 years) from the comparison groups of two quasi-experimental intervention studies from Victoria, Australia were analysed. Sweet drink consumption (soft drink and fruit juice/cordial) was assessed as one day’s intake and typical intake over the last week or month at two time points between 2003 and 2008 (mean time between measurement: 2.2 years).


Assessed using dietary recalls, more than 70% of the children and adolescents consumed sweet drinks, with no difference between age groups (p = 0.28). The median intake among consumers was 500 ml and almost a third consumed more than 750 ml per day. More children and adolescents consumed fruit juice/cordial (69%) than soft drink (33%) (p < 0.0001) and in larger volumes (median intake fruit juice/cordial: 500 ml and soft drink: 375 ml). Secular changes in sweet drink consumption were observed with a lower proportion of children and adolescents consuming sweet drinks at time 2 compared to time 1 (significant for age group 8 to <10 years, p = 0.001).


The proportion of Australian children and adolescents from the state of Victoria consuming sweet drinks has been stable or decreasing, although a high proportion of this sample consumed sweet drinks, especially fruit juice/cordial at both time points.

Sweet beverages; Soft drink; Children and adolescents