MDH: Survey finds 'troubling' trend of sugary drink consumption among Minnesota students

An annual survey of students in Minnesota found nearly half consume sugary drinks at least once a day, a trend the state health department calls “troubling." 

The 2019 Minnesota Student Survey included 170,000 Minnesota students in grades 5,8,9 and 11 from regular public elementary and secondary schools, charter schools and tribal schools, according to an DH news release. The survey is administered every three years. 

State health officials say the daily intake of sugary drinks increases their risk of becoming obese and their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular complications. Those chronic conditions also put youth at risk of serious illness from COVID-19. 

An analysis of the student survey found significant disparities among Minnesota students in their consumption of sugary drinks. Students who identify as Black, American Indian or people of color reported consuming greater amounts of sugar-sweetened beverages per day compared to white students. Students experiencing economic hardship were also twice as likely to report having sugary drinks three or more times per day compared to the average for all students.

The analysis also found that students who reported having prediabetes were two times more likely to report having sugary drinks three or more times per day compared to students without prediabetes. Adolescents and young adults who develop Type 2 diabetes experience more severe symptoms, more rapidly, and lose approximately 15 years from average life expectancy.

Health officials say many people, including children, report they are consuming more sugary drinks and snacks as they seek comfort during the stressful times brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

MDH offers the following guidance for parents and caregivers on how they can offer healthy food and drinks for their kids during the pandemic.