Assessing Preschoolers’ Beverage Consumption Using the Theory of Planned Behavior

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Abstract

Childhood obesity and caries are linked to sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) and excessive juice consumption. We assessed psychosocial factors influencing children’s beverage consumption and strategies to promote healthier choices. Using a quantitative and qualitative approach guided by the theory of planned behavior, we surveyed and interviewed 37 parents of preschool-aged children on barriers and facilitators of children’s beverage consumption. Most children (83.8%) consumed SSBs, 67.6% drank >4 to 6 oz of juice per day. Parent’s self-efficacy was the strongest correlate of parent’s behavioral intention to limit SSB (0.72, standard error 0.08, P = .03). Parents’ motivations to limit their child’s SSB intake extended beyond simply preventing caries and obesity; they also considered the implications of these conditions on children’s self-image, future health, and quality of life. Yet, the influence of multidimensional barriers made it difficult to reduce children’s SSB consumption. Interventions that address parental attitudes, values, and self-efficacy to address external factors could help reduce children’s SSB consumption.

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