There’s been a lot of attention in recent years to soda and other drinks sweetened with sugar. Schools have banned vending machines selling soda and other sugary drinks. Some advocates have urged that the drinks be taxed to discourage their consumption as a way of fighting the obesity epidemic. But how much of this stuff do Americans really drink?
Well, new federal data released Wednesday shows that it’s a lot.
On any given day, about half of the all Americans ages 2 and older consume drinks containing sugar, according to an analysis of data by the federal government’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2005 and 2008.
Who are the biggest consumers? Well, it should come as no surprise that it’s teenagers and young adults, with boys between the ages of 2 and 19 drinking the most. About 70 percent of them drink these sugar-laden beverages on any given day, according to the analysis.
In fact, men generally drink more of the stuff than women, with only about 40 percent of women consuming sugary drinks on any given day, according to the report. Overall, males consume an average of 175 calories from sugary drinks on any given day, with males between the ages of 12 and 19 downing 273 calories per day from the drinks, the researchers reported. In contrast, females consume about 94 calories from the drinks.
Sugary drinks include fruit drinks, sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks and sweetened bottled waters. Not included are diet drinks, 100 percent fruit juice, sweetened teas and flavored milks.
There were also racial and ethnic variations. Blacks tend to consume more than whites. Among adults 20 and older, whites consume a smaller percentage of their total caloric intake from sugar-sweetened drinks than blacks — 5.3 percent versus 8.6 percent, the report found. Less affluent people also tend to consume more than more affluent people.
More than half of the drinks are consumed at home after being bought in stores, as opposed to restaurants. But more than 20 percent of those consumed outside the home come from places such as vending machines, cafeterias and street vendors, according to the analysis.
The American Beverage Association issued a statement Thursday disputing the link between soda and the obesity epidemic.
“Contrary to what may be implied by the introductory statement of this data brief that reaches back 30 years, sugar-sweetened beverages are not driving health issues like obesity and diabetes,” the association said. “In fact, recently published data from CDC researchers show that sugar-sweetened beverages play a declining role in the American diet, even as obesity is increasing.”
This post has been updated since it was first published.