Factors influencing sweet drink consumption among preschool-age children: A qualitative analysis

Alexandra Chung, Kathryn Backholer, Christina Zorbas, Lisa Hanna, Anna Peeters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Issue addressed: Consumption of high sugar foods and drinks are key risk factors for childhood obesity and dental decay. Sweet drinks are the single greatest contributor to the free sugars consumed by Australian children. Little is known about the factors influencing consumption of sweet drinks, particularly among preschool-age children. Methods: Focus groups and semi-structured interviews conducted with parents and grandparents (n = 25) residing in different socio-economic areas across metropolitan and regional Victoria, Australia. Thematic analysis identified the factors influencing sweet drink consumption, which were then aligned with the socio-ecological model. Results: At an individual level, health knowledge, health beliefs, and parenting skills and confidence influenced drink choices. At the social level, peer and family influence, and social and cultural norms emerged as influential. At the environmental level, sweet drink availability, targeted marketing, drink prices and settings-based policies influenced drink choices. Strategies identified by participants to support healthier drink choices included health education at the individual level; positive role modelling at the social level; and restricting unhealthy marketing, improved access to water, decreased availability of sweet drinks and price modification at the environmental level. Conclusion: Sweet drink consumption among preschool-age children is influenced by multiple factors across all domains of the socio-ecological model. Parents and grandparents are calling for education, healthy environments and supportive policies. So what?: In contrast to common rhetoric, children's sweet drink consumption is often influenced by factors beyond parental control. A multi-component strategy is required to support parents and grandparents in their efforts to make healthy choices for their children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-106
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Promotion Journal of Australia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • children
  • health behaviours
  • nutrition
  • obesity
  • qualitative methods

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