Objectives: This study investigated the associations between children’s screen habits and their consumption of sweetened beverages. Because parents might be disposed to regulate their child’s screen and dietary habits in a similar direction, our specific aim was to examine whether these associations were independent of parental norms. Methods: In the Swedish sample of the European Identification and prevention of dietary and lifestyle-induced health effects in children and infants (IDEFICS) study, parents filled in questionnaires about their 2 to 9-year-old children’s (n = 1,733) lifestyle and diets. Results: Associations between screen habits and sweetened beverage consumption were found independent of parental norms regarding sweetened beverages. A longitudinal analysis revealed that sweetened beverage consumption at 2-year follow-up was predicted by exposure to commercial TV at baseline (OR 1.4, 95 % CI 1.1–1.9). Cross-sectional analysis showed that the likelihood of consuming sweetened beverages at least 1–3 times per week increased for each hour/day watching television (OR 1.5, 95 % CI 1.2–1.9), and for being exposed to commercials (OR 1.6, 95 % CI 1.3–2.1). TV viewing time and commercial exposure contributed to the associations independently of each other. Conclusions: The results strengthen the assumption that it is possible to influence children’s dietary habits through their TV habits.
International Journal of Public Health (print Edition), 2014, Vol 59, Issue 1, p. 67-75