Public concerned about junk food marketing, consumption of sugary drinks effect on children’s health

Today, the American Heart Association in New Hampshire released results of a statewide public opinion poll on children’s health issues. The results of the poll, conducted in April, demonstrate major concern among voters about consumption of sugary drinks by children and indicate majority support for limiting the advertising of unhealthy foods and beverages in schools.
Among the highlights:

  • Nearly two-thirds of voters support a proposal to limit the advertising of unhealthy foods and beverages in schools in New Hampshire (65% support/30% oppose)
  • Nine out of ten voters believe that the consumption of sugary drinks by children is a problem (90% problem/8% not a problem, with 63% believing it is a major problem)
  • Voters level of concern with sugary drink consumption by children increased when they learned the associated health risks

“Before hearing persuasive messages in support of a policy to limit junk food marketing in schools, almost two-thirds of respondents indicated they would support it,” said Melissa Bernardin, Healthy Active Kids coalition coordinator at the American Heart Association in New Hampshire. “This support increased to almost three-quarters of respondents after hearing arguments linking food marketing and advertising to dietary preferences and diet related chronic disease affecting children.”
“Young kids can’t differentiate between advertising messages and other messages they receive about health and nutrition while they are at school. Schools need to be places where kids receive a consistent set of messages about healthy eating,” Bernardin added. “These results indicate public support for schools and communities working together to address these issues.”
“Sixty-three percent responded that children’s consumption of sugary drinks was a “major problem.”  Seven in ten respondents (70 percent) are very concerned when they are presented with information about increased risk of adult onset diabetes for those consuming one or more sugary drinks per day.”
Sugary drinks are the single leading source of added sugars in the U.S. diet and are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends that children over the age of 2 have no more than one 8-ounce sugary drink a week. Yet children today are consuming as much as ten times that amount.
An analysis of results by demographic criteria showed higher levels of support among women than men on the topics tested. Respondents not caring for children in the home responded no differently from those with children in the home. Of interest, respondents 65 years of age and older demonstrated higher levels of support for the proposal to limit unhealthy food and drink advertising in schools, and higher levels of concern for children’s sugary drink consumption, than younger age groups.
Global Strategy Group conducted the statewide survey of 601 registered voters in New Hampshire from April 20 to 25, 2017. Interviews were conducted on both landline and cell phones. The results of this survey have a margin of error of +/-4.0%. Care was taken to ensure the geographic and demographic divisions of voters were properly represented.
See the following attachments for more information:
AHA NH Poll – May Memo
AHA NH Survey – Deck for Media
Melissa Bernardin
Healthy Active Kids Coalition Coordinator
American Heart Association, New Hampshire
(603) 828-2442

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