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Inequalities in energy drink consumption among UK adolescents: a mixed-methods study

Vogel, C. A. ORCID: 0000-0002-3897-3786, Shaw, S., Strömmer, S. , Crozier, S., Jenner, S., Cooper, C., Baird, J., Inskip, H. & Barker, M. (2022). Inequalities in energy drink consumption among UK adolescents: a mixed-methods study. Public Health Nutrition, doi: 10.1017/S1368980022002592


OBJECTIVE: To examine energy drink consumption among adolescents in the United Kingdom (UK) and associations with deprivation and dietary inequalities.

DESIGN: Quantitative dietary and demographic data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) repeated cross-sectional survey were analysed using logistic regression models. Qualitative data from semi-structured interviews were analysed using inductive thematic analysis.


PARTICIPANTS: Quantitative data: nationally representative sample of 2587 adolescents aged 11-18 years. Qualitative data: 20 parents, 9 teachers, and 28 adolescents from Hampshire, UK.

RESULTS: NDNS data showed adolescents' consumption of energy drinks was associated with poorer dietary quality (OR 0.46 per SD; 95% CI 0.37, 0.58; p<0.001). Adolescents from more deprived areas and lower income households were more likely to consume energy drinks than those in more affluent areas and households (OR 1.40; 95%CI 1.16, 1.69; p<0.001; OR 0.98 per £1000; 95%CI, 0.96, 0.99; p<0.001 respectively). Between 2008 and 2016, energy drink consumption among adolescents living in the most deprived areas increased, but decreased among those living in the most affluent neighbourhoods (p=0.04). Qualitative data identified three themes. First, many adolescents drink energy drinks because of their friends and because the unbranded drinks are cheap. Second, energy drink consumption clusters with other unhealthy eating behaviours and adolescents don't know why energy drinks are unhealthy. Third, adolescents believe voluntary bans in retail outlets and schools do not work.

CONCLUSIONS: This study supports the introduction of age-dependent legal restrictions on the sale of energy drinks which may help curb existing socio-economic disparities in adolescents' energy drink intake.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: Adolescents, Energy drinks, Diet, Policy, Inequalities
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
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