Get the Facts: Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Consumption

Bottles of sugar sweetened beverages

Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) or sugary drinks are leading sources of added sugars in the American diet. Frequently drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with weight gain/obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney diseases, non-alcoholic liver disease, tooth decay and cavities, and gout, a type of arthritis.1-4 Limiting the amount of SSB intake can help individuals maintain a healthy weight and have a healthy diet.

What are sugar-sweetened beverages?

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages 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.5
  • Examples of SSBs 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.5

SSB consumption varies by age, sex, race/ethnicity, geography and socioeconomic status.

  • 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, US youth consume 143 calories from SSBs and US adults consume 145 calories from SSBs on a given day.6,7
  • Among youth, SSB intake is higher among boys, adolescents, non-Hispanic Black youth, or youth in families with low-incomes.6, 8
  • Among adults, SSB intake is higher among males, young adults, non-Hispanic Black or Mexican American adults, or adults with low-incomes.7-9
  • The prevalence of Americans who drink SSB at least once per day differs geographically.
    • For example, 68% of adults living in the Northeast, 67% of adults living in the South, 61% of adults living in the West, and 59% of adults living in the Midwest reported drinking SSBs one or more times per day.10
    • About 31% of adults in nonmetropolitan counties and 25% of adults in metropolitan counties reported drinking SSBs one or more times per day.11
  • Americans drink 52% of SSB calories at home and 48% of SSB calories away from home.12

SSB consumption is associated with less healthy behaviors.

Adults and adolescents who smoke, don’t get enough sleep, don’t exercise much, eat fast food often, and who do not eat fruit regularly are more likely to be frequent consumers of SSBs. Additionally, adolescents who frequently drink SSBs also have more screen time, for example, more time with televisions, cell phones, computers, and video games.9,13-15

Prevalence of adults reported drinking SSBs at least once a day, BRFSS 2013–20179,11,16

Table 1. The prevalence of daily SSB intake (≥1 time/day) varied across states and District of Columbia, BRFSS 2013-2017†
Table 1. The prevalence of daily SSB intake (≥1 time/day) varied across states and District of Columbia, BRFSS 2013-2017†
Crude prevalence % (95% confidence interval)
States 2013 (N=157,668) 2016 (N=75,029) 2017 (N=68,896)
Alaska 26.5 (24.4–28.6) –* 23.3 (20.5–26.3)
Arizona 27.6 (24.8–30.6) –* 26.7 (25.6–27.8)
Arkansas –* –* 40.1 (37.3–42.8)
California 23.8 (22.3–25.4) –* –*
Connecticut 19.5 (18.1–21.1) –* –*
Delaware –* 31.0 (28.9–33.2) 26.4 (24.3–28.5)
District of Columbia 22.7 (20.4–25.1) –* 24.9 (23.1–26.8)
Hawaii –* –* 20.5 (19.1–22.0)
Indiana 34.9 (33.1–36.9) 38.1(36.6–39.6)
Iowa 29.9 (27.9–32.1) 29.2 (27.7–30.8) 26.7 (24.9–28.6)
Kansas 30.1 (29.0–31.3) –* –*
Kentucky 41.4 (39.9–42.9) –* –*
Louisiana 44.1 (41.8–46.4) –* –*
Maryland 27.5 (26.1–28.9) –* –*
Minnesota 21.2 (19.9–22.6) –* –*
Mississippi 46.2 (44.5–48.1) 46.8 (44.8–48.8) –*
Nebraska 28.5 (26.8–30.3) –* –*
New Jersey 23.0 (20.9–25.1) 21.5 (19.9–23.3) –*
New York 22.5 (20.7–24.3) 23.3 (22.3–24.4) 17.9 (16.4–19.4)
North Carolina 40.3 (38.1–42.5) –* 37.0 (34.9–39.1)
Ohio 31.2 (29.6–32.9) 34.2 (31.7–36.7) 27.3 (25.8–29.0)
Oklahoma 43.1 (40.9–45.3) –* –*
South Carolina 40.4 (39.0–41.9) –* –*
Texas –* 37.3 (34.3–40.3) –*
Utah 27.5 (26.4–28.6) –* –*
Vermont 16.7 (15.4–18.1) –* 17.0 (15.5–18.6)
West Virginia 41.8 (40.2–43.4) 40.4 (38.9–41.8) 38.3 (36.6–40.1)
Wisconsin 26.7 (24.8–28.7) –* 24.7 (23.0–26.6)

SSB data were collected from 23 states and DC in 2013, 9 states in 2016, and 12 states and DC in 2017.
* No data in a specific year.

Resources

CDC Publications (2014-2020)

Youth

Adults

References
  1. Malik VS, Hu FB. Sugar-sweetened beverages and cardiometabolic health: An update of the evidence. Nutrients. 2019;11(8):1840.
  2. 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.
  3. Bomback A, Derebail V, Shoham D, et al. Sugar-sweetened soda consumption, hyperuricemia, and kidney disease. Kidney International. 2010;77(7):609-616.
  4. Valenzuela MJ, Waterhouse B, Aggarwal VR, Bloor K, Doran T. Effect of sugar-sweetened beverages on oral health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Public Health. 2020.
  5. U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020. 8th Edition ed. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 2015external icon.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Ogden CL, Kit BK, Carroll MD, Park S. Consumption of sugar drinks in the United States, 2005-2008. NCHS Data Brief. No 71. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2011.
  9. Lundeen EA, Park S, Pan L, Blanck HM. Daily intake of sugar-sweetened beverages among US adults in 9 states, by state and sociodemographic and behavioral characteristics, 2016. Prev Chron Dis. 2018;15:E154.
  10. 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.
  11. Imoisili O, Park S, Lundeen EA, et al. Sugar-sweetened beverage intake among adults, by residence in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan counties in 12 states and the District of Columbia, 2017. Prev Chronic Dis. 2020;17:E07.
  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. Park S, Blanck HM, Sherry B, Brener N, O’Toole T. Factors associated with sugar-sweetened beverage intake among United States high school students. J Nutr. 2012;142(2):306-312.
  14. Park S, Sherry B, Foti K, Blanck HM. Self-reported academic grades and other correlates of sugar-sweetened soda intake among US adolescents. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012;112(1):125-131.
  15. Park S, Pan L, Sherry B, Blanck HM. Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among US adults in 6 states: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2011. Prev Chronic Dis. 2014;11:E65.
  16. Park S, Xu F, Town M, Blanck HM. Prevalence of sugar-sweetened beverage intake among adults – 23 States and the District of Columbia, 2013. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016;65(7):169-174.