Consumption of Sweetened Beverages among School Going Children in a Densely Populated Township in Lilongwe, Malawi
Background: The growing global childhood obesity pandemic has not spared lowincome countries like Malawi, where 8% of children below the age of five years are overweight. Globally, regular consumption of sweetened beverages is implicated among the factors that fuel childhood obesity. Despite the growing problem, there are no local studies on any aspect of sweetened beverage consumption among children in Malawi that could help in guiding interventions and public health nutrition policies.
Aim: We aimed to assess sweetened beverage consumption among school-going children in Chilinde, a densely populated township in Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi.
Methods: A total of 60 school-going children whose caregivers gave verbal consent were included, and a structured questionnaire was administered to the caregiver (or other knowledgeable and responsible member of the household) of each eligible child.
Results: Our results showed that 50 of the 60 children sampled were consuming a wide-range of sweetened beverages on a regular basis on any day of the week, mostly during meal times (n = 23), before going to school (n = 22), and after school (n = 19). One-third of the children were reportedly consuming up to 300 mL of several sweetened beverages per day.
Conclusion: Like in many countries around the world, consumption of sweetened beverages appears to be common among young school-going children in this urban setting in Malawi. As the country builds public health responses to the growing problem of non-communicable diseases, early preventive interventions among children should be given priority.