If Parnali Chowdury’s research is any indication, children in Bangladesh are not going to give up their sugary drinks easily. The 2016 IDRC Research Award recipient found that although children in grades 5 to 8 were increasingly aware of the negative effects of sugary drinks, “children in higher grades are prone to consume more.” Chowdhury’s study was the first to examine why urban Bangladeshi children consume so many sugary drinks.
Although she found no difference in drink consumption between boys and girls, she did observe that their consumption is influenced in different ways. Boys, she says, have pocket money, so they buy drinks at local shops or in school vending machines. Girls, “don’t get pocket money in Bangladesh.” Nor are they allowed to play outside on the streets, so “they end up watching more TV and are more influenced by advertisements.” The strongest motivator for both were promotional gifts with beverage purchases, says Chowdhury.
Her experience at IDRC “made me strong enough to pursue things that I really want to pursue,” she says. “Now I’m very confident that I will be pursuing the health and development area all through my life.”