Sugary Drink Consumption
Data on sugary drink consumption unanimously point in one direction: Americans of all ages drink excessive amounts of sugary beverages. Data show that soda and other sugary beverage consumption has more than doubled over the past thirty years to an all-time high of 7% of daily calories, making it the single largest contributor to daily caloric intake in the United States.1, 2
An analysis of national data from 2007-2008 showed that each day, 66% of children, 77% of teens, 73% of young adults, and 50% of adults consume a sugary drink.3 In 2004, there were enough sugary beverages produced for every man, woman and child to drink twenty ounces every day.4 Today, there are 664 products, sixty-one brands, and annual sales of approximately twenty-nine billion dollars.5
A recent (2010) study found that children's median intake of sugary drinks is two per week, with a mean of six per week.6 This means that a small number of children is drinking a much greater-than-average amount. NHANES data from 2008 indicate that 12.5% of American children drink diet sodas on any given day, up from 6.5% in 1998.
As campaigns to reduce sugary drink marketing and consumption gain momentum around the country, Americans are learning more about the harmful effects of sugary drinks and are consuming fewer of them. From 1999-2000 to 2009-2010, average daily consumption of sugary drinks decreased by 30% for youth and 23% for adults.7 However, data from 2009-2010 show that sugary drinks continue to contribute 8% of total daily calories for youth and 7% of total daily calories for adults,7 representing a significant amount of empty calories.
All around the country, the statistics are alarming:
- In California, 62% of adolescents (tweleve to seventeen years old), 41% of children (two to eleven years old), and 24% of adults drink one or more sodas per day.8
- In Philadelphia, a survey found that nearly half (49%) of the children surveyed drank two or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day.9
- In New York State, data show that 34% of children 2-17 years old consume at least one soda (excluding diet soda) or other sugar-sweetened beverage a day, including iced tea, sports drinks or fruit punch drinks.10
According to national NHANES data from 2008, American adults (age 20 and older) reported drinking significantly more full-calorie (regular) soda than diet soda.
- Men: 19% reported drinking diet soft drinks compared to 53% who reported drinking regular soft drinks
- Women: 23% reported drinking diet soft drinks compared to 41% who reported drinking regular soft drinks.
For more information on sugary drink consumption, see Barry Popkin's article published in 2010 in Physiology and Behavior called "Patterns of beverage use across the lifecycle."
1. Popkin BM. Patterns of beverage use across the lifecycle. Physiology & Behavior. 2010;100:4–9.
2. Welsh JA, Sharma AJ, Grellinger L, Vos MB. Consumption of added sugars is decreasing in the United States. Am J Clin Nutr. Sep 2011;94(3):726-734.
3. Han E, Powell LM. Consumption patterns of sugar-sweetened beverages in the United States. J Acad Nutr Diet. Jan 2013;113(1):43-53.
4. Jacobson MF. Liquid Candy: How Soft Drinks are Harming American’s Health. Center for Science in the Public Interest. Second Edition, First Printing: June 2005. Washington D.C.
5. Harris JL, et al. Sugary Drink FACTS: Evaluating Sugary Drink Nutrition and Marketing to Youth. Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, October, 2011.
6. Strum R, Powell LM, Chriqui JF, Chaloupka FJ. Soda Taxes, Soft Drink Consumption and Children’s Body Mass Index. Health Affairs. 2010;5:1052-1058.
7. Kit B, Fakhouri T, Park S, Nielsen S, Ogden C. Trends in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among youth and adults in the United States: 1999-2010. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2013.
8. Babey SH, Jones M, Yu H, Goldstein H. Bubbling Over: Soda Consumption and Its Link to Obesity in California. UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and California Center for Public Health Advocacy. Sept 2009.
9. Jordan A et al. Results from the Annenberg Philadelphia Healthy Lifestyles Initiative (PHLI) Survey. Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. August 2010.
10. New York State Department of Health - Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention. Information for Action # 2011- 6. Release Date: 4/21/2011.