Studies have shown that high levels of consumption of sugar-containing soft drinks by adolescents are associated with increased risk of obesity, dental carries, hyperactivity and mental health problems in this group. Research has also shown that parental influences and family environment are key determinants in the formation of children's eating habits. The purpose of the current study was to explore the role of home environment on Greek adolescents' soft drinks consumption, and especially cola drinks. A total of 149 adolescents, aged 13–16 years old, have been recruited from two public high schools in a semi-urban area of Northern Greece. The adolescents completed a general background questionnaire and a specially designed food frequency questionnaire assessing soft drinks consumption. The collected data were analysed using descriptive statistics and logistic regression analysis.
The results showed that most adolescents in this sample consume soft drinks, especially cola drinks with sugar, and they have access to these beverages in their home environment. The majority of the adolescents, however, reported that their parents do not serve soft drinks during their meals, do not approve of soft drinks consumption and do not consume high levels of soft drinks themselves.
Results also indicated that taste seems to be a strong determinant of soft drinks consumption. In the case of cola drinks, statistical analysis has revealed that gender, general eating habits, soft drink-related knowledge and a number of family environment variables, such as single-parent family and maternal educational level, together with parental practices, such as parents' approval of soft drinks consumption and parental soft drinks consumption, are significant determinants of cola drinks intake in this age group.
Future studies investigating predictors of soft drinks consumption with emphasis on the role of home food environment and on adolescents' response to reduced availability, may identify the next steps towards improving the diets of adolescents and hence their general health and well-being.