Children’s beverage choices now more varied, squash the most popular

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 5th December 2008

A new study has delved into the changing patterns of beverage consumption of British children, discovering that healthier options are becoming more widely consumed as kids branch out beyond their old favourites.

The research, conducted by independent research company TNS for the British Soft Drinks Association, shows that squash has retained its enduring popularity as a low cost, enjoyable beverage choice for children across all ages. Children’s drink choices have also become more varied and fruit juice, juice drinks, bottled water and milk are now chosen twice as often as in 1993.

Further key findings from the research show that:

* 55% of soft drinks consumed by children now contain no added sugar compared with 46% in 2004 – children are now 20% more likely to consume a drink with no added sugar than they were in 2004.
* Squash is the most popular soft drink in children’s school lunchboxes.
* Bottled water has also become increasingly popular.
* More than 86% of soft drinks (and 93% of fruit juices) are consumed with food.
* Children now have a wider range of soft drinks to choose from, with new choices gaining in popularity alongside old favourites. No added sugar, diet and low calorie soft drinks have also seen an increase in popularity amongst children over the last four years.
* The research found that parents want to play an active role in ensuring their children have a balanced diet and want to set a good example so their children understand the need to maintain a healthy active lifestyle.
* When children are the only ones having a drink, they are opting for squash as a first choice. Juice, juice drinks and milk are also popular choices among all ages. In the upper age group (11-16s) we see an increased proportion of children opting for more adult-orientated drinks such as carbonates, 21 per cent of 11-16 year olds opting for carbonates in comparison to 13 per cent of 6-10s. Squash still remains the most popular soft drink type and is chosen 22 per cent of the time.
* When consuming soft drinks with their parents, the research showed that children drink a similar range of drinks. The most noticeable difference when the children are with adults is that for children between the ages of 6 -16 years old, tea is three or four times more likely to be consumed.
* A move away from carbonated drinks has been the most noticeable trend in the past five years, with the previous decade showing a trend away from hot beverages. Now hot beverages are maintaining a low share (about 11%) while kids shift within the cold segment from carbonates to water, milk and juice.
* Parents are taking greater control over their children’s beverage choices, with the 27 per cent who “bought what their children wanted” in 2004 declining to 18 per cent by the end of last year.

“This research provides a fascinating insight into what children are drinking and how their habits have changed,” Jill Ardagh, BSDA Director General, said. “Children and their parents now have a wide range of soft drinks to choose from, helping them keep refreshed and hydrated throughout the day and maintain a balanced diet and active lifestyle.”

A full copy of the findings can be found at (at the bottom of the page):