Half of Americans Drink Sugary Beverages Daily: Report

Sugar drinks have been linked to poor diet quality, weight gain, obesity, and, in adults, type 2 diabetes.

Consumption of sugar drinks in the United States has increased over the last 30 years among both children and adults, according to a new report by the National Center of Health Statistics. Sugar drinks have been linked to poor diet quality, weight gain, obesity, and, in adults, type 2 diabetes. U.S. dietary guidelines issued in 2010 recommend limiting the consumption of foods and beverages with added sugars. Moreover, the American Heart Association has recommended a consumption goal of no more than 450 kilocalories (kcal) of sugar-sweetened beverages—or fewer than three 12-ounce cans of carbonated cola—per week.

Key findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005–2008 include:

  • Approximately one-half of the U.S. population consumes sugar drinks on any given day.
  • Males consume more sugar drinks than females.
  • Teenagers and young adults consume more sugar drinks than other age groups.
  • Non-Hispanic black children and adolescents consume more sugar drinks in relation to their overall diet than their Mexican-American counterparts. Non-Hispanic black and Mexican-American adults consume more than non-Hispanic white adults.
  • Low-income persons consume more sugar drinks in relation to their overall diet than those with higher income.
  • Most of the sugar drinks consumed away from home are obtained from stores and not restaurants or schools.

Overall, males consume an average of 175 kcal from sugar drinks on any given day, while females consume 94 kcal. Mean consumption of sugar drinks is higher in males than females at all ages except among 2- to 5-year-olds. Consumption of sugar drinks increases until ages 12–19 years and then decreases with age. Consumption of sugar drinks is lowest among the oldest females (42 kcal per day) and highest among males aged 12–19 (273 kcal per day).

On a given day, there is a wide range of sugar-drink consumption. About 50 percent of the population consumes no sugar drinks; 25 percent consumes some sugar drinks but less than 200 kcal (more than one 12-ounce can of cola); and 5 percent consumes at least 567 kcal from sugar drinks on any given day (more than four 12-ounce cans of cola).

More than one-half of sugar-drink kilocalories (52 percent) are consumed in the home. Of these sugar-drink kilocalories, the vast majority is purchased in stores (92 percent), and just over 6 percent is purchased in restaurants or fast-food establishments. Of the 48 percent consumed away from home, 43 percent are purchased in stores, 35.5 percent in restaurants or fast-food establishments, and 1.4 percent in schools or day-care settings. More than 20 percent of sugar-drink kilocalories consumed away from home are obtained in other places such as vending machines, cafeterias, street vendors, and community food programs, among others.

To view the entire report, go to http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db71.htm.

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