BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: To examine students' beverage choice in school, with reference to its contribution to students' intake of non-milk extrinsic (NME) sugars.
SUBJECTS/METHODS: Beverage and food selection data for students aged 11-18 years (n=2461) were collected from two large secondary schools in England, for a continuous period of 145 (school A) and 125 (school B) school days. Descriptive analysis followed by cluster analysis of the beverage data were performed separately for each school.
RESULTS: More than a third of all items selected by students were beverages, and juice-based beverages were students' most popular choice (school A, 38.6%; school B, 35.2%). Mean NME sugars derived from beverages alone was high (school A, 16.7 g/student-day; school B, 12.9 g/student-day). Based on beverage purchases, six clusters of students were identified at each school (school A: 'juice-based', 'assorted', 'water', 'cartoned flavoured milk', 'bottled flavoured milk', 'high volume juice-based'; school B: 'assorted', 'water with juice-based', 'sparkling juice/juice-based', 'water', 'high volume water', 'high volume juice-based'). Both schools included 'high volume juice-based' clusters with the highest NME sugar means from beverages (school A, 28.6 g/student-day; school B, 24.4 g/student-day), and 'water' clusters with the lowest. A hierarchy in NME sugars was found according to cluster; students in the 'high volume juice-based' cluster returned significantly higher levels of NME sugars than students in other clusters.
CONCLUSIONS: This study reveals the contribution that school beverages combined with students' beverage choice behaviour is making to students' NME sugar intake. These findings inform school food initiatives, and more generally public health policy around adolescents' dietary intake.