Drink Water!

Drinking water can help you maintain a healthy weight. Sugary drinks are leading sources of added sugars in our diets. Sugary drinks have become an everyday or every meal choice for many people. Sugary drinks are full of empty calories that don't make you feel full, unlike calories from solid food. They also add to the overall calories in your diet. If you drink just one 12- ounce can of a sugary drink every day without cutting back on calories from other foods, you could gain up to 15 pounds every year!

Sugary drinks are everywhere, and people have easy access to them. Over the years, the prices have decreased, and the portion sizes have increased. They are available in almost every workplace, school and college cafeteria, and retail store.

Drinking sugary drinks on a regular basis can lead to weight gain, tooth decay and cavities, and increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and obesity-related cancers. Additionally, drinking sugary beverages is associated with developing kidney disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and gout, a type of arthritis. Cutting back on sugary drinks can reduce your risk of developing these chronic diseases and help you lead a healthier life.

What are sugary drinks?

Sugary drinks, also called sugar-sweetened beverages, are any non-alcoholic drinks with added sugar. Added sugars include any kind of sugar or calorie-containing sweetener that is added to beverages. Sugary drinks include:

  • Soda and other carbonated beverages
  • Sports drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Fruit-flavored drinks, punches, and lemonade
  • Vitamin-enhanced water beverages
  • Powdered drink mixes
  • Sweetened tea and coffee drinks
  • Flavored milk and milk-alternatives
  • Milkshakes

What about sports drinks, energy drinks and vitamin-enhanced water? Aren't they helpful when being active?

While we have reduced our consumption of soda, we have increased our intake of sports drinks, energy drinks, vitamin-enhanced water and other flavored waters.

These drinks are marketed as healthier. However, they often contain excessive amounts of sugar and contribute to all the same health conditions associated with drinking soda. Most active people can replenish the nutrients lost when exercising by drinking plenty of water and eating a well-balanced diet that contains a variety of fruits and vegetables.

What are some alternatives to sugary drinks?

There are many healthy and refreshing beverage choices to help quench your thirst. These include:

  • Water
  • Plain and flavored seltzer
  • Unsweetened iced tea and coffee
  • Low fat and fat-free milk
  • 100% fruit or vegetable juice in small portions
  • Or, make your own fruit or vegetable-infused water:
    Slice up oranges, lemons, limes, berries, melon, cucumbers, or herbs, such as mint or thyme,
    and simply add them to water

How much sugar is in sugary drinks?

Drinking just one sugary drink each day can put you over the daily recommended limit for added sugars. This does not include the sugar that we consume through other foods. We wouldn't eat that much sugar, so why drink it?

On food and beverage labels, sugar is usually listed in grams.

  • 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon or one packet of sugar

A typical 12-ounce can of soda contains about 39 grams of sugar or more than 9 teaspoons of sugar. Some flavored sodas contain as much as 46 grams or about 11 teaspoons of sugar.

Here are some other numbers:

  • The average 8-ounce bottle of energy drink has about 27 grams or 7 teaspoons of sugar.
  • The average 16-ounce vitamin water has about 26 grams or 6 teaspoons of sugar.
  • A 20-ounce bottle of sports drink has about 34 grams or 8 teaspoons of sugar.
  • A 10-ounce bottle of juice drink or fruit punch (not 100% fruit juice) has about 40 grams or 10 teaspoons of sugar.

Is there a recommended daily limit for added sugar?

The American Heart Association recommends limiting your daily sugar intake:

  • Children under 2 years of age: No added sugars
  • Children 2 – 18 years of age: Less than 24 grams (or 6 teaspoons)
  • Adult women: 24 grams (or 6 teaspoons)
  • Adult men: 36 grams (or 9 teaspoons)

How do we identify sugar in our drinks?

Sometimes it's easy to identify sugar as an ingredient. But sugar goes by many names. Reading food labels is important. If you see the following on an ingredient label, you know there is added sugar:

  • Agave nectar
  • Barley Malt
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane Sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Fruit nectar
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Glucose-fructose syrup
  • Honey
  • Maltose
  • Malt syrup
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Sugar
  • Sucrose

What are the benefits of decreasing our sugary drink consumption?

Decreasing your intake of sugary drinks can help with weight loss and reduce your risk of getting chronic diseases. It will also save money.

NYS-Specific Resources: