The research has been published online in the international journal BMC Public Health.
Lead author Kate Hafekost said around 80 per cent of Australian children drank sugary drinks which include carbonated soft drinks (including energy drinks), juices with added sugar, cordial, sports drinks, milkshakes/smoothies and flavoured milk.
“Not only was consumption of sugary drinks high in Australian children, we also saw that the majority (77 per cent) were purchased in supermarkets and 60 per cent were consumed in the home environment,” said Ms Hafekost.
“Less than 17 per cent of sugary drinks were sourced from the school canteen or a fast food outlet, despite these sources being the focus of many public health recommendations.
“These findings suggest that health messages should target supermarkets as the key source of the sugary drinks.”
The data was drawn from the 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, a representative random sample of 4,834 Australian children aged 2 to 16 years.
The study team also saw differences in patterns of consumption across different age groups and parental education levels.
“Older children tended to drink more carbonated and sports drinks, while younger children drank more juice with added sugar and cordial. While children whose parents had higher levels of education consumed less carbonated drinks, these children still consumed high quantities of sweetened juice and flavoured milk which are still high in sugar,” said Ms Hafekost.
The study team said parents and children need to be educated about the consequences of high consumption of both carbonated and non-carbonated sugary drinks as they contribute to obesity as well as nutrition-related chronic disease.