Study Draws Attention to Teens’ Consumption of Soda, Fast Food
In California, more than two million teenagers drink at least one sugary beverage daily, and nearly half eat fast food twice each week, according to a study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports (Hines, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 7/27).
For the study, researchers used the 2007 California Health Interview Survey and the business database InfoUSA to calculate the Home and School Retail Food Environment Index, which measured the ratio of less healthy food outlets to the number of healthier outlets (United Press International, 7/28).
Previous studies have shown that consuming fast food and soda is linked to taking in excess calories and can lead to obesity and diabetes (Wulffson, Los Angeles Examiner, 7/27).
The UCLA study found that the average teen in California has nearly eight times as many fast-food restaurants, and convenience and discount stores near their homes and schools than grocery stores (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 7/27).
According to researchers, nearly 75% of California teens live and attend school in less healthy food environments, relative to the number of healthier food outlets such as farmers markets and produce vendors (United Press International, 7/28).
The study found that teens in more unhealthy environments were:
- 18% more likely to eat fast food at least twice weekly as teens in healthier neighborhoods; and
- 17% more likely to drink sugary beverages every day (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 7/27).
The authors recommended policy changes to improve teens' food environments, including:
- Creating a program to bring fresh produce directly from farms to schools;
- Offering incentives to draw more healthful grocers to underserved neighborhoods; and
- Zoning food outlets more strategically, especially around schools (Los Angeles Examiner, 7/27).