Food Environment, Policy and Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Consumption in U.S. Adolescents

Liwei Chen, MD, PhD


Increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) is a critical nutrition problem in the U.S. and has been identified as a key contributor to the current epidemic of obesity among adolescents. Up to date, little is known on how this high level of SSBs consumption can be reduced.  Recently, environmental and policy interventions have been advocated as powerful strategies to address the epidemic. While there is a growing consensus that food environments and policies play important roles in influencing individuals’ food choice, reviews of studies linking the food environment (i.e. fast food restaurants density, conventional stores density, school cafeteria and vending machines) and policies (i.e. food price and tax) with the SSBs consumption in adolescents indicate the research is equivocal and data for policy making is lacking.  In addition, little research has been done to compare the relative importance of the various aspects of food environment in influencing SSBs intake in youth. Part of the research barriers could be lack of database that includes validated measures of multiple environmental and policy factors.   In this review, we summarized the environments and policy determinants of SSB consumptions in U.S. adolescents and the challenges in measuring environmental contexture factors.  We also proposed the future research directions and believed findings from research in these areas will inform policy and guide future environmental and policy interventions on reducing the SSBs consumption and lower the obesity rate in U.S. adolescents.

[N A J Med Sci. 2017;10(2):73-77.   DOI:  10.7156/najms.2017.1002073]


food, sugar-sweetened-beverage, adolescents, SSBs consumption

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