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sugar-sweetened beverages

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Americans' Still in Love with SSBs

U.S. population struggling to kick the sugar-sweetened beverage habit.

The National Center for Health Statistics released consumption data (2011-2014) showing almost one-half of U.S. adults drink at least one sugar-sweetened beverage every day. Young adults have the highest average intake compared to older adults. Learn more and view the startling statistics by clicking on this link.

PositiveTip: The healthiest drink for most people is plain tap water--it has no  sugar, no calories, and many benefits!

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Dietary Patterns

Single-food studies could miss other important factors.

Swedish researchers analyzed the dietary habits of 25,000 adults without diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer. They found those consuming the most sugar-sweetened beverages also consumed significantly fewer healthy foods. High consumption of coffee was also associated with higher intakes of high-fat foods and lower intakes of breakfast cereals. These results were adjusted for potential confounding factors such as age, sex, BMI, activity and energy intake.

PositiveTip: Remember, we do not eat single foods. We eat combinations that result in healthy or unhealthy dietary patterns.

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Sugar’s Links with Mortality

New research associates high sugar intake with heart disease

Processed sugars are associated with (but don’t necessarily cause) increased rates of heart disease. New research on 12,000 people over 15 years found that there was a 29% increased risk of death by cardiovascular disease for people who drank at least seven servings of sugar-sweetened beverages per week compared to those who drank no more than one serving per week. Excess sugar can contribute to obesity and other determinants of cardiovascular disease.

PositiveTip: Minimize your intake of soda pop, sugar-sweetened teas, energy drinks and fruit juices.

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Sugary Beverages and Preschoolers

Preschool obesity linked to sugary beverage consumption.

Preschoolers who drink one or more sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) were found to be at higher risk for obesity. At ages 2, 4, and 5 years old, the youngsters who drank one or more SSB every day tended to have obese or overweight mothers compared to those who drank less than one serving per day. The 4 and 5 year olds who drank SSBs watched more television, used less milk and were more likely to be overweight.

PositiveTip: SSBs are not necessary for good nutrition or health. Teach your children to enjoy plain, no-calorie water!

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A Sour Side of Sugary Beverages

Sugar sweetened beverages appear to contribute to endometrial cancer risk.

Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with almost 80% higher risk of type 1 estrogen-dependent endometrial cancer compared to those who consumed none. This was independent of body mass index, physical activity, diabetes and cigarette smoking. These significant findings came from analysis of 23,039 postmenopausal participants in the Iowa Women's Health Study.

PositiveTip: Remember, sugar sweetened beverages are not a necessary part of a good diet. Enjoy water, natures refreshing beverage!

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A Bitter Side of Sugary Drinks

Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages increases the risk of gout.

New Zealand researchers found high consumption of sugar-sweetened soft drinks increased the risk for gout. Even carriers of the genetically protective allele (SLC2A9) experienced significantly increased gout risk. Four sugar sweetened sodas a day increased the risk of gout in those of Caucasian ancestry almost 7 fold. When all groups were combined, each sugary drink consumed per day increased the risk by 12% and 15% (noncarriers and carriers, respectively).

PositiveTip: Sodas provide little nutrition. Avoid consuming them whenever possible. 

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Restriction of Sweetened Drinks Leads to Weight Loss

Curtailing the consumption of sugary drinks contributes to weight loss.

A randomized trial conducted in Boston has found that obese adolescents lost weight when they drank water or non-caloric beverages instead of sugary drinks or 100% fruit juice. The non-caloric beverages were delivered to the kids homes for one year. Two year differences were negilible, suggesting that many returned to sugary drinks.

PositiveTip: Calories from sugar-laden drinks make a difference for adolescents (and probably adults, too).

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Cut the Sugary Drinks to Cut the Weight

Replacing sugar-sweetened drinks with sugar-free drinks leads to smaller weight gains.

The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has been associated with being overweight, as they tend not to give a feeling of satiety. In an 18-month randomized trial of children 5-12 years old, Dutch researchers have found that substituting sugar-free drinks for sugary drinks led to significantly smaller weight gains. They noted that U.S. children consume almost 3 times more calories from sugary drinks as the Dutch children.

PositiveTip: Sugar-free beverages, especially water, should be the drink of choice for children (and adults too).

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Sweetened Sodas Linked to Lung Diseases

Sugary sodas alone or combined with smoking increase risk of lung disease.

Sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to poor health outcomes such as heart disease and stroke. Researchers in Australia have recently found that sugary drinks are associated with an increased risk of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Though this cross-sectional study does not prove that sodas are the cause of these problems, it does offer some interesting results. Those who drank at least half a liter per day were twice as likely to develop either lung condition (OR 2.33, 95% CI 1.51 to 3.60) compared to those who drank none. Those who drank soda and smoked showed a 6.6 fold increase in risk.

PositiveTip: Sodas are not necessary for human survival. Why are you drinking them?

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Blood Pressure and those Sugary Drinks

Sugar-laden beverages may raise blood pressure.

Sugar-sweetened sodas and fruit juice may increase blood pressure according to British researchers who looked at 2,696 U.S. and U.K. participants. For each additional sugary beverage per day systolic blood pressure rose 1.6 mmHg and diastolic by 0.8 mmHg (p<0.001 for both). Perhaps these "empty calories" are displacing calories from the nutrient dense foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. More research is needed.

PositiveTip: None of us really need sugar-sweetened beverages for health. Drink plain water instead of that calorie dense beverage, and eat another serving of delicious fruit.