Oral Presentation Australian & New Zealand Obesity Society 2015 Annual Scientific Meeting

Why do parents give their children soft drinks? A path analysis model of factors associated with soft drink provision (#34)

Simone Pettigrew 1 , Michelle Jongenelis 1 , Kathy Chapman 2 , Caroline Miller 3
  1. Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia
  2. Cancer Council NSW, Sydney
  3. South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, Adelaide

Health agencies are increasingly recommending that parents avoid giving their children sugar-sweetened beverages. Such advice is contrary to the lived experiences of many families where soft drinks are a normal part of the daily diet. A substantial readjustment of social norms is therefore required to bring current behaviours in line with new dietary recommendations. This readjustment process requires a deep understanding of the factors that are associated with parents’ provision of soft drinks to their children to facilitate the development of relevant and effective interventions. The aim of the present study was to identify modifiable factors associated with soft drink provision to inform future strategies to assist parents reduce their children’s intake. An online survey was administered to 1,302 Australian parents with children aged 8 to 14 years. The questionnaire included items measuring demographic characteristics, attitudes to soft drinks, perceived social norms relating to soft drink consumption, extent of television viewing, child pestering for unhealthy foods and beverages, and children’s soft drink intake. Structural modelling was undertaken to identify direct and mediated relationships between the variables. Children’s soft drink consumption was found to be positively associated with children’s and parents’ age, the extent to which parents held favourable attitudes to soft drinks, parents’ perceptions of the acceptability of soft drinks among other adults and children, and children’s pestering behaviours. Perceived social norms and pestering had both direct and indirect effects on children’s soft drink consumption frequency, indicating that these are important factors to address in interventions to reduce children’s intake of sugar-sweetened beverages. Overall, the results show that parents need assistance in managing pestering in their households and that efforts should be made to address social norms relating to the acceptability of providing soft drinks to children.