Healthy Beverage Campaign

Sugary drinks are leading sources of added sugars in the American diet. 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. Limiting sugary drink intake can help you maintain a healthy weight and enjoy a healthier diet.

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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 during processing or preparation. 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

Why the focus on sugary drinks?

Sugary drinks are major contributors to weight gain and rising obesity rates. In recent years, the overall consumption of carbonated sugary drinks (soda/pop) in the United States has decreased, but people are consuming other types of sugary drinks more often, such as flavored water, sports drinks, energy drinks and sweetened coffee and tea drinks. Drinking sugary drinks on a regular basis can lead to 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.

Why not focus on candy, cookies, cakes, ice creams and other foods with added sugars?

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!

Why are we consuming so many sugary drinks?

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.

How much sugar is in our 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.

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

As a nation, we have reduced our consumption of soda, but have increased our intake of sports drinks, energy drinks, vitamin water and other flavored waters. These drinks are marketed as healthier alternatives and may be perceived as such. 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.

Is 100% fruit juice OK to drink?

While you do get some of the vitamins in 100% fruit juice, you are not getting the fiber that is found in the actual fruit. Fiber is an essential component of a healthy diet. Fiber helps you feel full longer, control blood sugar, and lower cholesterol.

How do we identify sugar in our drinks?

Sometimes it's easy to identify sugar as an ingredient. But sugar goes by many names – many don't necessarily sound like sugar. 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

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)

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
  • You can also make your own fruit or vegetable-infused water to add refreshing flavor.
    Slice up oranges, lemons, limes, berries, melon, cucumbers, or herbs, such as mint or thyme,
    and simply add them to water (mash berries and herbs to release the flavors).

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.

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