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Knowledge, Practice and Perception of Taking Soft Drinks with Food and the Metabolic Effects on High School Students in Ghana

Introduction: Soft drinks are non-alcoholic beverages that contain carbon dioxide, nutritive or non-nutritive sweeteners, natural or synthetic flavours, colours, acidification agents, chemical preservatives and emulsifiers in addition to other various functional agents. Studies in adolescents has revealed that soft drink consumption is too high in adolescents which has been associated with higher risk of becoming overweight and increased risk for diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and some cancers. This study sought to assess the knowledge, practice and perception of taking soft drinks with food among Junior High School (JHS) students in a municipality in Ghana.
Materials and methods: The design was a cross sectional studies involving 273 students in Junior High Schools in Ghana. WHO’s Step-wise questionnaire was modified to gather all data.
Results: About 1 out of every 4 students (22.2%) had no knowledge that carbohydrate/sugar was a nutrient in soft drinks. About 58.4% of the students were aware of health implications of taking soft drinks with food and about 46.5% of them mentioned an increase in body weight as an implication of taking soft drinks. About 30.3% of the students were undernourished, 51.0% were of normal weight, while 12.4% of were overweight and 6.2% were obese. This knowledge in nutrition had little changes on their BMI. There was no significant difference between BMI and the number of times soft drinks was taken with food (p-value=0.808). On the average JHS students take soft drinks with food at least once in a week. They perceived the practice not to be a healthy one and they thought people practice it because it is nice.
Conclusion: Majority of the students had some knowledge of the effects on health of the practice of consuming soft drinks with food. However, they had little knowledge on the nutrients contained in the soft drinks. Most of them also knew the nutritional implications of taking soft drinks with food but it did not deter them from practicing it.

Author(s): Frederick Vuvor and Obed Harrison

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