sugary drinks

What are sugary drinks

Sugary drinks or sugar sweetened beverages are leading sources of added sugars in the American diet 1. Frequently drinking sugary drinks (sugar-sweetened beverages) is associated with weight gain/obesity 2, type 2 diabetes 2, heart disease 3, kidney diseases 4, non-alcoholic liver disease, tooth decay and cavities 5, and gout, a type of arthritis.

It estimated that sugary drinks caused around 133,000 deaths in adults per year globally from diabetes, with 45,000 from heart disease and 6,450 from cancer 6.

Limiting the amount of sugary drinks intake can help you maintain a healthy weight and have a healthy diet.

What are sugary drinks / sugar-sweetened beverages ?

Sugary drinks are any liquids that are sweetened with various forms of added sugars like brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, and sucrose 7.

Examples of sugary drinks include, but are not limited to regular soda (not sugar-free), fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened waters, and coffee and tea beverages with added sugars.

  • More than 1 in 4 people in the United States drink sugar-sweetened beverages regularly and daily, according to a government survey of 115,291 adults from 18 states. Daily consumption of sugary drinks was most common among those ages 18 to 34, men, African Americans, and Latinos.
  • Beverages, like energy drinks, can be deceiving because they advertise that they are healthy but usually are loaded with calories and sugar. Common forms of added sugars are sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, dextrose, corn syrups, concentrated fruit juice and honey. Also, look at the label carefully because one container may be considered more than one serving, which can double or triple your sugar consumption.
  • Sugary drinks alone may be to blame for about 1.8 million cases of type 2 diabetes in the United States. Based on 17 studies involving more than 38,000 people who developed type 2 diabetes over an average of 10 years, researchers calculated that the risk for type 2 diabetes increases by about 13 percent per average serving (about 8½ ounces) of sugary drinks per day, even after accounting for obesity.
  • Some studies suggest that drinking too many calories is even more likely to cause weight gain than eating too many calories from solid foods. It is suggested that liquid calories are not as satisfying as calories consumed from solid foods, so people tend to consume more fluid calories to compensate. Reducing liquid calorie intake has a stronger effect on weight loss than reducing solid calories. People should carefully monitor the calories they drink and get enough water to maintain proper hydration every day.

In 2011-2014, 6 in 10 youth (63%) and 5 in 10 adults (49%) drank a sugar-sweetened beverage on a given day. On average, U.S. youth consume 143 calories from sugary drinks and U.S. adults consume 145 calories from sugary drinks on a given day 8.

Among youth, sugary drinks intake is higher among boys, adolescents, non-Hispanic blacks, or youth living in low-income family 9.

Among adults, sugary drinks intake is higher among males, young adults, non-Hispanic blacks or Mexican American, or low-income adults 10.

  • Americans eat about 20 teaspoons of sugar a day according to a report from the 2005–10 NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) database. Teens and men consume the most added sugars. Average daily consumption for men: 335 calories, women: 230 calories, boys: 362 calories, girls: 282 calories.

The prevalence of Americans who drink sugary drink at least once per day differs geographically. For example, 68% among adults living in the Northeast, 67% among adults living in the South, 61% among adults living in the West, and 59% among adults living in the Midwest reported drinking sugary drinks one or more times per day 11.

Americans drink 52% of sugary drink calories at home and 48% of sugary drink calories away from home 12.

Americans should limit their added sugars consumption

  • Americans should keep their intake of added sugars to less than 10% of their total daily calories as part of a healthy diet 7. For example, in a 2,000 daily calorie diet no more than 200 calories should come from added sugars.
    • no more than 19g a day of free sugars for children aged 4 to 6
    • no more than 24g a day for children aged 7 to 10
    • no more than 30g a day for children aged 11 or more and adults
  • Americans, aged 6 years and older, consumed about 14% of total daily calories from added sugars in 2003–2010 13.
  • The leading sources of added sugars in the U.S. diet are sugary drinks, grain-based desserts like cakes and cookies, candy, and dairy desserts like ice cream 13. Reducing the amount of sugary drinks and sugary foods each day and replacing these with plain water and fruit might be a good way to reduce added sugars intake.
  • Regular sugary drinks are the No. 1 source of added sugars in Americans’ diets. A 12-ounce can of regular soda contains an estimated 130 calories (or 8 teaspoons) of added sugars. People who consume lots of sugary drinks eat too many sugar calories and tend to gain weight. Carefully monitor the number of calories you get from sodas and other sources of added sugars.

The American Heart Association recommends that no more than half of your daily discretionary calorie allowance come from added sugars. For most American women, this is no more than 100 calories per day (about 6 teaspoons). For men, it’s no more than 150 calories per day (about 9 teaspoons) 14.

How to stop drinking soda and sugary drinks

Here are tips on how to switch to healthier drinks that can quench your thirst and still taste good.

  • If you have sugary drinks like sodas and sweetened teas on a regular basis, start cutting back now. Replace those drinks with the water.
  • If buying fizzy drinks, why not try the sugar-free or diet options with artificial sweeteners ? No one will likely notice the difference.
  • If you take sugar in tea or coffee, gradually reduce the amount until you can cut it out altogether, or try swapping to sweeteners instead. Try some new flavors with herbal teas, or make your own with hot water and a slice of lemon or ginger.
  • Like some fizzy drinks, fruit juice can be high in sugar. When juice is extracted from the whole fruit to make fruit juice, sugar is released, and this can damage our teeth. Your combined total of drinks from fruit juice, vegetable juice and smoothies should not be more than 150ml a day – which is a small glass. For example, if you have 150ml of orange juice and 150ml smoothie in one day, you’ll have exceeded the recommendation by 150ml.
  • Instead of a fizzy drink, try sparkling water poured over ice, served with a wedge of lime or lemon. Add a couple of straws and it should go down refreshingly well.
  • You could try flavoring water with a slice of lemon, lime, or a splash of fruit juice. But watch out for the sugar content in flavored water drinks: a 500ml glass of some brands contains 15g of sugar, the equivalent of nearly four teaspoons of sugar.
  2. Malik V, Popkin B, Bray G, Desprs J-P, Hu F. Sugar-sweetened beverages, obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular disease risk. Circulation. 2010;121(11):1356-1364.
  3. Malik VS, Hu FB. Fructose and Cardiometabolic Health: What the Evidence From Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tells Us. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015;66(14):1615-1624.
  4. Bomback A, Derebail V, Shoham D, et al. Sugar-sweetened soda consumption, hyperuricemia, and kidney disease. Kidney International. 2010;77(7):609-616.
  5. Bernabe E, Vehkalahti MM, Sheiham A, Aromaa A, Suominen AL. Sugar-sweetened beverages and dental caries in adults: a 4-year prospective study. J Dent. 2014;42(8):952-958.
  6. Singh GM, Micha R, Khatibzadeh S, et al. Estimated Global, Regional, and National Disease Burdens Related to Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption in 2010.
  7. U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  8. Rosinger A, Herrick K, Gahche J, Park S. Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among U.S. youth, 2011–2014. NCHS Data Brief. No 271. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2017.
  9. Ogden CL, Kit BK, Carroll MD, Park S. Consumption of sugar drinks in the United States, 2005-2008. NCHS Data Brief. 2011(71):1-8.
  10. Rosinger A, Herrick K, Gahche J, Park S. Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among U.S. adults, 2011–2014. NCHS Data Brief. No 270. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2017.
  11. Park S, McGuire LC, Galuska DA. Regional differences in sugar-sweetened beverage intake among US adults. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015;115(12):1996-2002.
  12. Kit BK, Fakhouri TH, Park S, Nielsen SJ, Ogden CL. Trends in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among youth and adults in the United States: 1999-2010. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;98(1):180-188.
  13. Drewnowski A, Rehm CD. Consumption of added sugars among US children and adults by food purchase location and food source. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100(3):901-907.
Health Jade Team

The author Health Jade Team

Health Jade