Prevalence of Self-Reported Intake of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Among US Adults in 50 States and the District of Columbia, 2010 and 2015
RESEARCH BRIEF — Volume 18 — April 15, 2021
Jennifer R. Chevinsky, MD, MPH1,2; Seung Hee Lee, PhD1; Heidi M. Blanck, PhD1; Sohyun Park, PhD1 (View author affiliations)
Suggested citation for this article: Chevinsky JR, Lee SH, Blanck HM, Park S. Prevalence of Self-Reported Intake of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Among US Adults in 50 States and the District of Columbia, 2010 and 2015. Prev Chronic Dis 2021;18:200434. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd18.200434external icon.
What is already known about this topic?
Frequent intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) is associated with adverse health consequences. SSB intake differs by geographical region and sociodemographic characteristics.
What is added by this report?
We report SSB intake by state for all 50 states and the District of Columbia along with notable geographic and sociodemographic differences.
What are the implications for public health practice?
Efforts to decrease SSB intake could consider sociodemographic and geographic differences in SSB intake to inform design of interventions.
Frequent intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) is associated with adverse health outcomes, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. We used combined data from the 2010 and 2015 National Health Interview Survey to examine the prevalence of SSB intake among US adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Approximately two-thirds of adults reported consuming SSBs at least daily, including more than 7 in 10 adults in Hawaii, Arkansas, Wyoming, South Dakota, Connecticut, and South Carolina, with significant differences in sociodemographic characteristics. Efforts to decrease SSB consumption could consider the sociodemographic and geographic differences in SSB intake when designing equitable interventions.
Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are a leading source of added sugars in the US diet and are associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and tooth decay (1–4). SSBs, which are sweetened with various forms of added sugars, include regular soda, sweetened fruit drinks, sports/energy drinks, and sweetened coffee/tea drinks (5). Previous studies reported geographic differences in SSB intake (6–8). However, no study has reported SSB intake for every state. We assessed the prevalence of SSB intake among US adults by sociodemographic characteristics for all 50 states and the District of Columbia by using National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data.
NHIS is a nationally representative, cross-sectional household survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) that uses in-person interviews. The Cancer Control Supplement (CCS), which contains dietary intake information, was administered both in 2010 and in 2015 and was approved by the NCHS Research Ethics Review Board. We used nationally weighted data from combined 2010 and 2015 NHIS CCS to examine the prevalence of consuming SSBs 1 or more times daily among 56,260 US adults aged 18 or older. Data were combined to increase the sample size and reduce the variability associated with state estimates. This study required the use of restricted NHIS files for state estimates and categorizing metropolitan status available through the NCHS Research Data Center. SSB intake was based on survey respondents’ answers to 4 questions asking about intake frequency over the past month of regular soda, sweetened fruit drinks, sports/energy drinks, and sweetened coffee/tea drinks (9,10). Sweetened fruit drinks and sweetened coffee/tea drinks included drinks that were presweetened in addition to drinks that were sweetened at home by adding sugar. Adults responded with intake frequency per day, week, or month for each beverage type. Weekly and monthly intake frequency for each type of beverage was converted to daily intake frequency by dividing by 7 or 30, respectively. To calculate frequency of total daily SSB intake, we summed responses from intake of regular soda, sweetened fruit drinks, sports/energy drinks, and sweetened coffee/tea drinks. SSB categories and frequency cutoff of once per day were used, consistent with previous studies (6,7). Differences in respondent characteristics were assessed by χ2 tests (P < .05). Prevalence estimates were calculated for SSB categories and by state for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Analyses were conducted with SAS-callable SUDAAN, version 9.0 (RTI) to account for a complex survey design and sampling weights.
Overall, 63.0% of US adults reported consuming SSBs 1 or more times daily in combined 2010 and 2015 NHIS CCS data (Table 1). US adults reported consuming the following 1 or more times daily, by beverage type: sweetened coffee/tea drinks, 39.5%; regular soda, 19.5%; fruit drinks, 5.7%; and sports/energy drinks, 5.5%. Among sociodemographic categories with significant differences overall, the prevalence of SSB intake was highest among adults aged 18 to 24 (65.0%) and 25 to 39 (65.4%), men (66.1%), Hispanic respondents (70.1%), people with less than a high school education (69.8%), people with an annual household income less than $35,000 (66.0%), people residing in nonmetropolitan areas (65.0%), and people residing in the Northeast census region (67.0%). The prevalence of SSB intake did not significantly differ by marital status.
By state, SSB intake of 1 or more times daily ranged from 44.5% in Alaska to 76.4% in Hawaii. These 6 states had a prevalence of daily SSB intake of 70.0% or more: Hawaii (76.4%), Arkansas (74.2%), Wyoming (73.2%), South Dakota (72.5%), Connecticut (72.2%), and South Carolina (70.2%). Only 1 state, Alaska (44.5%), had a daily intake prevalence below 50.0% (Table 2). Most states had a daily intake prevalence between 50.0% and 70.0% (Figure).
Prevalence of self-reported sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) intake once daily or more among US adults by state, National Health Interview Survey Cancer Control Supplement (NHIS CCS), 2010 and 2015. SSBs include regular soda, sweetened fruit drinks, sports/energy drinks, and sweetened coffee/tea drinks. This map shows combined 2010 and 2015 data from the NHIS CCS (9,10). [A tabular version of this figure is available.]
Daily SSB intake is common among US adults and is particularly high in some states and among some populations. The prevalence in our study was higher than in the 2017 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey (8). This discrepancy may be explained by differences in the types of SSBs assessed, modes of survey administration, methods of collecting dietary intake data, and representativeness. Previous NHIS, NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), and BRFSS data also showed that SSB consumption is higher among young adults, men, adults in nonmetropolitan counties, and people with low levels of education (6–8,11).
The prevalence of SSB consumption in previous studies was high in the Northeast (7) and in southern states (6), consistent with our study’s findings. The high northeastern prevalence may be due to high consumption of sweetened coffee or tea drinks (7). Data from the 2017 BRFSS survey (8) for 12 states, and data from the 2013 BRFSS survey (6) for 23 states also revealed state-specific differences in SSB intake. Reasons for state differences may reflect demographic differences. States and communities may also differ in SSB marketing (12), pricing, and access to alternatives.
Our study has several limitations, including self-reported information, assessment of intake frequency without volume or amount of SSBs, age of the data, and combination of data. Declines in SSB intake have occurred over time (13). Combining data may mask changes in prevalence in the study period. Regardless, ours is the first study to our knowledge to examine SSB intake frequency for all 50 states and the District of Columbia by using a nationally representative sample of US adults. Our findings highlight that prevalence of daily SSB intake remains high among US adults, with sociodemographic and geographic differences. Efforts to decrease SSB intake could consider the higher intake prevalence in sociodemographic and geographic subpopulations to aid design and targeting of equitable interventions.
We thank Wajun Cui from the National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Research and Methodology, and the staff of the NCHS Research Data Center. The findings and conclusions in this study are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We received no funding for this study. No copyrighted materials were used in this article.
Corresponding Author: Jennifer Chevinsky, MD, MPH, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway, NE, MS: S-107-5, Atlanta, GA 30341. Telephone: 404-498-2890. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author Affiliations: 1Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia. 2Epidemic Intelligence Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.
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|Characteristic||No. Respondents||≥1 Time/d, Weighted % (95% CI)b|
|White, non-Hispanic||33,488||61.4 (60.7–62.2)|
|Black, non-Hispanic||8,238||64.3 (63.0–65.7)|
|Other, non-Hispanic||4,550||60.5 (58.5–62.5)|
|Married/domestic partnership||28,079||62.7 (61.9–63.4)|
|Not married||28,181||63.5 (62.7–64.3)|
|<High school||8,712||69.8 (68.5–71.0)|
|High school/GED||14,358||67.3 (66.2–68.3)|
|Some college||17,200||62.8 (61.8–63.8)|
|College graduate||15,990||56.4 (55.4–57.4)|
|Annual household income, $b|
|State||No. Respondents||Weighted % (95% CI)a|
|Nation overall||56,260||63.0 (62.4–63.6)|
|District of Columbia||563||64.8 (57.5–71.4)|
|New Hampshire||526||69.7 (66.9–72.3)|
|New Jersey||1,220||69.5 (65.6–73.2)|
|New Mexico||728||68.5 (65.8–71.1)|
|New York||2,701||65.6 (63.1–68.1)|
|North Carolina||1,511||62.7 (59.0–66.2)|
|North Dakota||506||59.2 (53.8–64.5)|
|Rhode Island||390||65.7 (58.1–72.6)|
|South Carolina||739||70.2 (64.6–75.4)|
|South Dakota||515||72.5 (69.0–75.7)|
|West Virginia||563||59.4 (55.8–62.9)|
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