Parents’ Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviours Related to Children’s Beverage Consumption in Youth Soccer: A Qualitative Analysis

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Objective: To explore parents’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviours regarding sugar-sweetened beverages(SSBs, e.g. soft drinks, juice drinks, sports drinks) and other beverages provided by parents at youth sports events.

Design: Qualitative analysis of focus group discussions.

Setting: Ada County, Idaho, USA.

Method: A total of 3 focus groups were conducted with 24 parents of 6- to 11-year-old children participating in one community recreational soccer league. Parents were asked how they selected beverages for their children at soccer practices and games, and shared ideas for improving healthy beverage consumption in this setting. Two coders performed an inductive content analysis of the focus group transcripts, and an external reviewer established the trustworthiness of the data.

Results: Parents expressed uncertainty about which beverages other than water were best for children’s health and performance. Beverage choices were affected by factors such as cost, convenience, the weather, the level of competition and children’s ages. Parents also noted the influence of coaches, other parents, their children’s preferences, their beverage habits at home and the media. Parents desired evidence-based guidance on optimal beverages for youth athletes and recommended specific interventions to reduce consumption of SSBs in the context of youth sport events.

Conclusion: Results indicate the need for developmentally appropriate expert recommendations for healthy beverage consumption in recreational youth sport, and reinforce findings from existing research which suggest that parents desire support to ensure healthy beverages are offered at youth sports events.