Plain language summary
Recommendations for milk and/or fruit juice consumption in children’s diets has remained inconclusive. The aim of this study was to assess whether patterns in beverage consumption among children and adolescents can influence food choices and overall diet quality. Beverage consumption patterns of 8119 children and adolescents were analysed based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Beverage patterns were defined as milk pattern, juice pattern, milk and juice or other caloric beverages. This analysis found that while children rarely limit their drinking choices to a single beverage, those who primarily consumed milk, juice or a combination of the two were associated with better dietary choices. Based on this study, the authors conclude that promotion of milk and juice consumption, compared to other caloric beverages, may be an effective way to improve overall diet quality in children and adolescents.
BACKGROUND Patterns of beverage consumption among children and adolescents can be indicative of food choices and total diet quality. METHODS Analyses of beverage consumption patterns among 8119 children aged 4-19 y were based on the first 24-h recall of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2009-14 NHANES). Four pre-defined beverage patterns were: 1) milk pattern; 2) 100% juice pattern; 3) milk and 100% juice pattern; and 4) other caloric beverages. Food- and nutrient-based diet quality measures included the Healthy Eating Index 2010. RESULTS Most children drank other caloric beverages, as opposed to milk (17.8%), 100% juice (5.6%), or milk and 100% juice (13.5%). Drinkers of milk and 100% juice had diets that did not differ from each other in total calories, total and added sugars, fiber, or vitamin E. Milk drinkers consumed more dairy and had higher intakes of calcium, potassium, vitamin A and vitamin D as compared to all other patterns. Juice drinkers consumed more total fruit, same amounts of whole fruit, and had higher intakes of vitamin C as compared to the other consumption patterns. Drinkers of both milk and 100% juice had the highest HEI 2010 scores of all the consumption patterns. CONCLUSIONS Beverage consumption patterns built around milk and/or 100% juice were relatively uncommon. Promoting the drinking of milk and 100% juice, in preference to other caloric beverages, may be an effective strategy to improve children's diet quality. Restricting milk and 100% juice consumption may encourage the selection of other caloric beverages.