Sugar-sweetened beverages: availability and purchasing

Sugar-sweetened beverages: availability and purchasing

Sugar-sweetened beverages: availability and purchasing behaviour
within the school fringe

Kate Ennis, Alexandra Holt and Sylvia Cheater*

Health Equalities Group, Food Active, 151 Dale Street, Liverpool L2 2JH, UK

(Received 30 January 2014; accepted 8 May 2014)

In the UK, over 61% of adults and 30% of children are obese; sugar-sweetened
beverages (SSBs) are acknowledged to be a contributor to this obesity epidemic due to
their high sugar content and lack of nutritional value. This study focussed on a
secondary school in the North West of England, with the aim of evaluating pupil’s
exposure to, and opportunities to buy SSBs on their journeys to and from school and
during the school day, along with their purchasing behaviours. Data were collected
using mapping exercises and focus group interviews. Results showed that SSBs could
be purchased very cheaply within the school fringe. All participants in the focus groups
claimed to consume SSBs, although the frequency of consumption varied. Taste was
the most important factor when purchasing drinks. Although the selection of beverages
for sale varied, the majority were found to contain high levels of sugar, with very few
low or non-sugar options available. Participants were largely unaware of the sugar
content in SSBs. The study highlights the need for a multi-factorial approach in order to
decrease the consumption of SSBs in children and young people. Recommendations
include health promotion in schools around the detrimental health consequences of
excess sugar intake, working with local authorities to restrict SSB retailing close to
schools and homes, working with retailers to improve the provision of healthy
beverages in their stores and addressing the issue of price, potentially by the
implementation of a sugar tax.

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