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Reducing overconsumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is one strategy to prevent obesity1 and may be beneficial for young children as dietary preferences and patterns begin developing early in life.2 A cross-sector systems approach can incorporate strategies and policies to change the environments in which parents and caregivers nourish young children and help them learn to make healthy decisions about foods and beverages so that they enter their school years at a healthy weight and develop life-long healthy practices.3

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Strategies by Location icon

Strategies by Location

On any given day, a young child may be in the care of a variety of caretakers in different settings. A number of influences may affect which beverages are offered to and consumed by the child.

Strategies by Location Map
Please view this web site on a larger device to see the interactive location map.

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Opportunities and Challenges Header Image

Opportunities and Challenges

Participants noted opportunities and challenges in the following areas, among others

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Understanding Dietary

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Federal Nutrition

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Beverage Intake Guidance
and Messaging


  • Better understand sugar-sweetened beverage intake in the context of overall dietary intake and diet quality —Mary Story, Duke University


  • Federal nutrition programs can expose children to healthy options —Sara Bleich, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Some of these programs also serve as a conduit for reaching parents and caregivers —Leann Birch, University of Georgia


  • Improve clarity for all caretakers, including parents, grandparents, babysitters, and child care providers on which beverages and what portion sizes to serve to children —Christina Hecht, University of California Nutrition Policy Institute

Challenges Discussed

  • Collecting accurate dietary intake data on young children —Steven Gortmaker, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • The absence of longitudinal data on children from birth —Anna Maria Siega-Riz, University of Virginia School of Medicine
  • Lack of uptake and implementation of evidence-based guidelines —Stephen Daniels, University of Colorado School of Medicine

Challenges Discussed

  • Inconsistent reporting of indicators across federal nutrition programs can make it difficult to identify gaps and opportunities —Sara Bleich, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Lack of existing federal dietary guidance for children 0 to 2 years of age —Virginia Stallings, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Challenges Discussed

  • Confusion about fruit drinks that are not 100% fruit juice—Mary Story, Duke University
  • The role of flavored milk and 100% fruit juice in the diet Stephen Daniels, University of Colorado School of Medicine
  • Misperceptions about and data gaps on drinking water safety —Christina Hecht, University of California Nutrition Policy Institute

Visit the publication page to learn more about the discussions at the National Academies workshop and download the Proceedings of a Workshop for free.

Note/Disclaimer: Statements, recommendations, and opinions expressed are those of the individual workshop participants. They are not necessarily endorsed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and should not be construed as reflecting any group consensus.

1. Institute of Medicine. 2012. Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

2. Institute of Medicine. 2006. Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity?. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

3. Institute of Medicine. 2011. Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.