How Many Sugary Drinks Do People In The U.S. Drink?

Drinking sugary beverages in excess has been linked with various health problems. Jonas Lamis/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services released some strict new guidelines that suggested sugar should only make up a tenth of our daily calories. Understandably, big-time soda companies weren’t too pleased.  

However, it appears they don’t have too much to worry about; nearly a third of adults in the United States still consume at least one sugar-sweetened drink every day. In certain U.S. states, this statistic was verging on half of all adults consuming sugary drinks daily.

This is according to a recently published report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which looked at the sugary drink guzzling habits of people across 23 states in the United States in 2013. These sugary drinks included regular sodas, sugar-sweetened fruit drinks, sweet tea, sports or energy drinks but did not include diet soda or pure fruit juice.

Overall, 30.1 percent of respondents said they consumed one such sugary drink at least once a day. The breakdown of the demographics also indicated that men consume more sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) than women, with 34.1 percent drinking a sugary drink daily.

For young adults aged between 18 to 24, 43.3 percent were also found to consume at least one SSB each day. They also found 42 percent of people who didn’t graduate high school downed at least one sugary drink daily. In fact, at each level of academic achievement – from non-graduates of high school, high school graduates to college graduates – the amount of SSB drinking fell.

The states that had the highest proportion of daily SSB drinkers were Mississippi (with 47.5 percent), followed by Louisiana (45.5 percent), and West Virginia (45.2 percent). With an absence of data for the other 27 states, it's difficult to say whether such a taste for sugary drinks is a country-wide trend.

There is something positive to be gleaned from the study, though. All of these numbers are down from the figures found in 2009–2010 by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which concluded 50.6 percent of U.S. adults consumed at least one SSB on a given day.

However, as the study points out, many people are still consuming far too much sugar. Obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are strongly associated with consuming an excess of added sugars and calories – two things sugary drinks are extremely high in. While suggestions vary, the American Heart Association says that you shouldn't consume more than 37.5 grams (1.3 ounces) of added sugar per day – a small 330ml can of cola contains almost this, with 35 grams of sugar crammed inside.

The study concluded with some actions to remedy to the problem, such as “education and awareness initiatives, increasing access to and promotion of healthier options through nutrition standards, including food service guidelines, and increasing the availability and promotion of drinking water in schools and public venues.”

Main image credit: Jonas Lamis/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

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