Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption in U.S.

Asher Rosinger, Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer

Asher Rosinger, Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer

Questions for Asher Rosinger, Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer and Lead Author of “Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption Among U.S. Adults, 2011–2014” and “Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption Among U.S. Youth, 2011–2014

Q: Why did you decide to do a report on sugar-sweetened beverage consumption?

AR: Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption has been linked to a myriad of negative health conditions, such as weight gain, dental caries, and type 2 diabetes.

In these reports we wanted to provide the most recent estimates of the calories adults and youth are consuming from sugar-sweetened beverages, what percentage of their daily caloric intake sugar-sweetened beverages represented, and how these patterns differed by sex, age, and race and Hispanic origin.


Q: How do you define a sugar-sweetened beverage?

AR: We defined sugar-sweetened beverages to include regular soda, fruit drinks (including sweetened bottled waters and fruit juices and nectars with added sugars), sports and energy drinks, sweetened coffees and teas, and other pre-sweetened beverages. Sugar-sweetened beverages do not include diet drinks, defined as less than 40 kilocalories (kcal) per 240 mL of the beverage; 100% fruit juice; beverages sweetened by the participant, including coffee and teas; alcohol; or flavored milks. This definition is consistent with previous reports.


Q: Is this the first time NHANES has released a report on this topic? If not, where is trend data available?

AR: NHANES has reported on sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in a previous report and most recently in a journal article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Kit et al, which specifically looked at trends from 1999–2010 among youth and adults. We used the same definition as Kit et al. so that our results are comparable. The mean calorie consumption and percentage of total daily calories consumed from sugar-sweetened beverages among U.S. adults declined from 196 kcal and 8.7% in 1999–2000 to 151 kcal and 6.9% per day in 2009–2010. For youth the drop has been more dramatic. The mean calorie consumption and the percentage of calories consumed from sugar-sweetened beverages among U.S. youth declined from 223 kcal and 10.9% in 1999–2000 to 155 kcal and 8.0% per day in 2009–2010. Our reports found that in 2011–2014 U.S. adults consumed 145 kcal and 6.5% of their daily caloric intake from sugar-sweetened beverages, while U.S. youth consumed 143 kcal and 7.3%.

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 98(1):180–8. 2013.


Q: How many U.S. adults and children are consuming at least one sugar-sweetened beverage a day?

AR: Nearly half or 49.3% of U.S. adults and almost two-thirds or 62.9% of children are consuming at least one sugar-sweetened beverage a day. Using the 2011-2012 and 2013-2014 Alternative Population Control totals these percentages translate to more than 111 million U.S. adults and 47 million children who drank at least one sugar-sweetened beverage on a given day.


Q: Were there any findings that surprised you?

AR: We were surprised by the finding that non-Hispanic Asian adults and youth consumed fewer calories from sugar-sweetened beverages than any other race and Hispanic origin group. In fact, consumption in this group was nearly half the amount of calories and percent of total daily caloric intake than the other groups. For example, on average non-Hispanic Asian boys consumed 73 kilocalories from sugar-sweetened beverages representing 3.5% of their total daily caloric intake, whereas every other group consumed more than 150 kcals and more than 7% of their total caloric intake from sugar-sweetened beverages.

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