Purpose: To determine the levels of daily consumption of soft drinks, sweets and cakes/pastries by schoolchildren in Kuwait and the possible background factors associated with these habits. In addition, the association between daily consumption of these sugar-rich products and other health-related habits was studied.
Materials and Methods: A nationally representative sample of children from public schools was drawn for this study. Altogether, 1292 schoolchildren of an average age of 13 years (SD ± 1.04) participated by anonymously filling out a structured questionnaire in school classrooms. The questionnaire of the WHO Collaborative study (Health Behaviour in School-aged Children) was used after modifications for the Kuwaiti situation.
Results: Daily consumption of soft drinks, sweets and cakes was very high, especially among the Kuwaiti schoolchildren. Very strong correlations were found between daily consumption of sweets and cakes/pastries (r = 0.60; P < 0.01), soft drinks and sweets (r = 0.50; P < 0.01) and between soft drinks and cakes/pastries (r = 0.42; P < 0.01). Among other unfavourable habits, late bedtime, watching TV often and smoking were strongly correlated with the daily use of sugary drinks and foods. Sociodemographic or socioeconomic factors were only weakly associated with the consumption of sugar-rich products.
Conclusions: Daily consumption of sugar-rich products seems to be alarmingly high in Kuwait, higher than in any other of the 34 countries in the HBSC study. Other unhealthy habits were associated with the daily consumption of these sugar-rich products.
Keywords: adolescents, Kuwait, soft drinks, sweets