Get the Facts: Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Consumption
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†|
|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)|
|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)|
|Iowa||29.9 (27.9–32.1)||29.2 (27.7–30.8)||26.7 (24.9–28.6)|
|Mississippi||46.2 (44.5–48.1)||46.8 (44.8–48.8)||–*|
|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)|
|South Carolina||40.4 (39.0–41.9)||–*||–*|
|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.
- A Data User’s Guide to the BRFSS Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Questions: How to Analyze Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages pdf icon[PDF-376KB]
- Rethink Your Drink: Options for reducing the number of calories you drink
- CDC Podcast: Sugary Drinks; Curb the Colas
CDC Publications (2014-2020)
- Dietary and physical activity behaviors among high school students – Youth Risk Behavior Survey, United States, 2019; August 2020
- Daily adolescent sugar-sweetened beverage intake is associated with selected adolescent, not parent, attitudes about limiting sugary drink and junk food intake; January 2020external icon
- Adolescent sugar-sweetened beverage intake is associated with parent intake, not knowledge of health risks; November 2018external icon
- Trends in beverage consumption among high school students – United States, 2007–2015; February 2017
- District policies and practices vary in their association with adolescents’ consumption of milk and 100% fruit juice; January 2017external icon
- School district policies and adolescents’ soda consumption; July 2016external icon
- Child and caregiver attitudes about sports drinks and weekly sports drink intake among U.S. youth; January 2016external icon
- Self-reported advertising exposure to sugar-sweetened beverages among U.S. youth; May 2015external icon
- Mothers’ child-feeding practices are associated with children’s sugar-sweetened beverage intake; April 2015external icon
- The association of sugar-sweetened beverage intake during infancy with sugar-sweetened beverage intake at 6 years of age; September 2014external icon
- A longitudinal analysis of sugar-sweetened beverage intake in infancy and obesity at 6 years; September 2014external icon
- Sugar-sweetened beverage intake among pregnant and non-pregnant women of reproductive age; April 2020external icon
- Foods and beverages obtained worksites in the United States. June 2019external icon
- Knowledge of health conditions associated with sugar-sweetened beverage intake is low among US Hispanic adults; January 2019external icon
- Factors associated with frequency of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among US adults with diabetes or prediabetes; September 2018external icon
- Physician characteristics associated with sugar-sweetened beverage counseling practices; December 2018external icon
- Impact of knowledge of health conditions on sugar-sweetened beverage intake varies among U.S. adults; July 2018external icon
- Total Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Intake Among US Adults Was Lower When Measured Using a 1-Question Versus 4-Question Screener; July 2018external icon
- Permanent tooth loss and sugar-sweetened beverage intake in U.S. young adults; Spring 2017external icon
- Association of sugar-sweetened beverage intake frequency and asthma among U.S. adults, 2013; October 2016external icon
- Knowledge of sugar content of sports drinks is not associated with sports drink consumption; November-December 2015external icon
- Association between sugar-sweetened beverage intake and proxies of acculturation among U.S. Hispanic and non-Hispanic white adults; 2015external icon
- Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among adults – 18 States, 2012; August 2014
- The relationship between health-related knowledge and sugar-sweetened beverage intake among U.S. adults; July 2014external icon
- Malik VS, Hu FB. Sugar-sweetened beverages and cardiometabolic health: An update of the evidence. Nutrients. 2019;11(8):1840.
- 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.
- Bomback A, Derebail V, Shoham D, et al. Sugar-sweetened soda consumption, hyperuricemia, and kidney disease. Kidney International. 2010;77(7):609-616.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.