America's Love Affair With Sugary Sodas Is Fading

From - November 14, 2017

America's Love Affair With Sugary Sodas Is Fading

TUESDAY, Nov. 14, 2017 -- Consumption of sodas and other sweet drinks -- a big source of sugar in Americans' diets -- has dropped in the past decade among both kids and adults, researchers find.

Overall, the number of adults who said they drank a sugary beverage on a daily basis dropped by 12 percentage points between 2003 and 2014, Harvard researchers said, and by 19 percentage points among kids.

"People's preferences are shifting," Bleich said. "Beverage consumption overall is going down, in addition to sugary beverage consumption. It may be that messages about beverages are starting to get through to people."

However, despite this drop in sugary drink consumption, the obesity epidemic continues apace, with more obese middle-aged people, young adults and children than ever before, Bleich noted.

Americans are still consuming too many calories. "Even if beverages overall are going down, we are eating too much. And it's because we are eating too much that obesity continues to rise," she said.

The report was published online Nov. 14 in the journal Obesity.

Samantha Heller is a senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center. She said, "The good news is the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has declined in the U.S. The bad news is we still have more work to do because sugar-sweetened beverages are the largest contributor to added sugars in the U.S. and are highly associated with obesity."

Reducing the amount of these drinks that people consume could have a significant effect on obesity, Heller noted, as long as they are replaced with healthier options -- such as water, seltzer, tea or milk.

Using data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 2003 to 2014, Bleich and her colleagues collected information on 18,600 children aged 2 to 19, and more than 27,600 adults 20 or older.

The participants were asked about what drinks they had consumed in the past day -- including sugar-sweetened drinks, 100-percent juice, diet drinks, milk (including flavored milk), unsweetened coffee or tea, alcohol and water.

In 2003-2004, nearly 80 percent of children and 62 percent of adults said they had a sugar-sweetened drink on a given day.

That had dropped to about 61 percent of children and 50 percent of adults by 2013-2014, the findings showed.

Despite this drop, teens and young adults still consumed more than the recommended amount of added sugar set by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Bleich said.

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