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Exploring the Roles of Health Care Professionals in Reducing Children's Intake of Sugary Drinks
AuthorGilmore, Lisa B.
Agriculture, Veterinary and Rangeland Sciences
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Intake of sugary drinks, including soda, sweetened juice drinks and sports drinks, has increased dramatically in the U.S. and is particularly high among children from lowincome households. Their consumption is a public health concern due to the implications for obesity and the displacement of other more nutrient-dense beverages. Health care professionals have a unique opportunity to address sugary drinks with their pediatric patients and parents in the context of assessment and/or education. The purpose of this study was to learn about the perceptions and experiences of health care professionals in Northern Nevada who are likely to treat children from low-income households. A mail survey instrument was developed for this purpose and sent to 214 Washoe County physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and dentists. A response rate of 30 percent (n=65) was achieved after two weeks of the initial mailing. From these surveys it was determined that there is great concern among health care professionals regarding pediatric consumption of sugary drinks. Of the health care professionals who returned their surveys, 99 percent reported that they regularly or sometimes inquired about the amount of sugary drinks their pediatric patients were consuming; and over 50 percent of the health care professionals reported that they would use all of the resources stated in the survey. The top three perceived barriers of health care professionals when addressing sugary drinks were lack of parent concern, patient motivation, and time. The findings will be used to develop additional strategies for an ongoing public health campaign, known as “Rethink Your Drink”.