Toolkit: How to Screen for Sugary Drink Consumption in Early Childhood


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Did you know Latino kids consume more sugary drinks—soda, sports and energy drinks, sugary fruit juices, and flavored milk—than the average child?

Heavy consumption of sugary drinks puts children at greater risk of obesity and disease.

This is why Healthy Eating Research created a new toolkit to help healthcare systems add a beverage screener to their electronic health record (EHR) system to ask parents questions about their child’s sugary drink consumption.

The goal is to identify “unhealthy beverage consumption patterns in young children and [help] families develop healthy beverage habits,” according to the toolkit.

How Can You Start Screening for Sugary Drinks?

The new toolkit shows how health systems can start screening for sugary drinks as part of their electronic health record (EHR) system.

Considerations include:

  • what screening questions to use
  • when to ask screening questions (pre-visit, check-in, rooming, during visit)
  • who asks and records screening questions (parent, medical assistant, provider)
  • how often to ask the questions
  • what visits to ask the questions
  • how to talk to counsel parents on drink recommendations

“There are numerous options for incorporating a beverage screener into the EHR that aligns with various system or practice workflows and staffing,” according to the toolkit. “The primary goal is to utilize a validated screener, for consistency in data collection, and ensure the questions are asked and the data are collected.”

screen for sugary drinks doctor parent child african americanThe toolkit also shares how to respond to data collected from screening.

For example, take Children’s Primary Care Medical Group, a large pediatrics group in San Diego and Riverside Counties, Calif.

They screen patients ages 1 and older at each well-child visit for sugary drink intake.

“Responses are included in the patients’ electronic health record and are searchable within the system,” according to the toolkit. “Patients that screen as having sugar sweetened beverage intake above the recommendations receive education from the provider and supportive materials.”

How Else Can We Address Sugary Drink Consumption?

In addition to the new toolkit, here are 5 pediatrician-approved recommendations to reduce sugary drink consumption among children:

Also, research found several messaging findings and strategies to help engage the Latino community in efforts to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks.

Water also is important.

This includes access to clean water, safe water at school, and drinking water advocacy and promotion.

Salud America! also created an Action Pack to help school leaders push for Water Bottle Fountains. These refillable water stations can boost access to water for Latino and all kids!


Explore More:

Healthy Food, Water

By The Numbers By The Numbers



of Latino kids have had a sugary drink by age 2 (vs. 45% of white kids)

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