LA County kids drinking fewer sugary drinks but childhood obesity remains a concern

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(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The percentage of Los Angeles County children who consumed at least one sugar-sweetened drink each day dropped between 2007 and 2011, but was still high enough to be a concern in the fight against childhood obesity, according to a report released today by the county Department of Public Health.

According to the study, the percentage of county children who drank one or more sugary beverages daily dropped from 43.3 percent in 2007 to 38.3 percent in 2011. The percentage was highest among kids and teens aged 12 to 17, and lowest among those aged 5 or younger.

Latino and black children were more likely to have a daily sugary drink than white and Asian/Pacific Islanders, the study found.

“While the slight decline in consumption demonstrates that we’re going in the right direction, there is still significant work to be done when more than one in three of our children is drinking a sugary drink every day, and more than one in five children is obese,” according to Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of the county Department of Public Health.

Fielding noted that obesity rates have increased over the past three decades in tandem with growing consumption of sodas and sports and energy drinks.

The drop in consumption can likely be attributed in part to 2007 legislation restricting the sale of sugary drinks on school campuses, along with a variety of public education campaigns, according to the county health department.

“Community education, accompanied by environmental strategies to reduce demand for sugary drinks, including interventions in schools and child-care settings, are likely to have the greatest effect, as are efforts to counter the influence of beverage industry marketing practices,” Fielding said.

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