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Study: Beverage consumption by children and adults

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The Daily

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Beverages constitute an important component of nutrition for Canadians. Children and teenagers aged 4 to 18 get about 20% of their daily intake of calories from beverages. For youngsters aged 1 to 3, they account for an even higher 30%.

Among adults, calories derived from beverages decline steadily with age. Men and women aged 19 to 30 obtain around 20% of their daily calories from beverages. For people aged 71 and older, beverages account for about 12% of calories.

At all ages, water is the beverage consumed by the highest percentage of people and in the greatest quantities.

But after water, the beverage choices Canadians make are tied closely to their age. As they get older, boys and girls drink less milk and fruit juice, and more soft drinks and fruit-flavoured drinks containing less than 100% juice.

Milk comprises almost half of the beverages consumed by children aged 1 to 3. On any given day, about 88% of children in this age group drink milk.

Among older children and teens, the percentage who reported consuming milk declined to 60% among boys aged 14 to 18, and to 53% among their female counterparts.

By the age of 14 to 18, regular soft drinks ranked third as a beverage choice for boys, and fourth for girls. On any given day, 53% of boys in this age range and 35% of girls had regular soft drinks.

Sugar-sweetened drinks have been linked with weight gain in children and teens, as well as with increased risk of tooth decay.

At ages 19 to 30, after water, milk was the beverage most commonly reported, with 49% of men and 54% of women drinking milk on any given day. Regular soft drinks ranked third for men, 47% of whom report consumption. For women, coffee took third place, with 39% drinking it.

Among people 50 and older, coffee was the most common beverage choice after water. About three-quarters of men and women drink coffee on any given day. As a result, more than 20% of men and 15% of women aged 31 to 70 exceeded the recommended maximum of 400 milligrams of caffeine per day.

For men, particularly those aged 19 to 50, beer is the alcoholic beverage consumed most frequently. On any given day, about a quarter of men in this age range drank beer. However, by age 71 or older, 12% of men reported drinking beer.

Comparatively few women, 8% at ages 19 to 50, and 2% at age 71 or older, reported drinking beer. Among women aged 31 or older, wine was a more common choice; 11% to 15% of women in this age range reported drinking wine.

Note: This release is based on two articles in Health Reports that use data from the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey on nutrition, the first national nutrition survey in over 30 years. It was designed to collect information about the food and nutrient intake of the household population. Respondents were asked to list all foods and beverages they consumed during the 24 hours before the day of their interview. One article is an overview of beverage consumption among adults aged 19 or older, and the other, an overview of consumption by children and teens aged 1 to 18. Both examine the type and quantity of beverages consumed, highlighting differences on the basis of age and sex.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 5049.

The articles, "Beverage consumption of children and teens" and "Beverage consumption of Canadian adults," are now available in the online edition of Health Reports, Vol. 19, no. 4 (82-003-XWE, free), from the Publications module of our website.

For more information about Health Reports, contact Christine Wright (613-951-1765;, Health Information and Research Division.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Didier Garriguet (613-951-7187;, Health Information and Research Division.