Over the past two decades, the number of adults consuming sugar-sweetened beverages such as soft drinks, fruit drinks and punches has increased dramatically, according to a study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Researchers examined changes over the past two decades in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption based on nationally representative survey data, and found that sugar-sweetened beverages comprise a significant source of total daily beverage intake and are the largest source of beverage calories consumed daily. Their results are published in the January 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
“More adults are drinking sugar-sweetened beverages and, among those drinkers, consumption has increased,” said Sara N. Bleich, PhD, lead author of the study and assistant professor with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management.
Earlier studies have linked consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages to the obesity epidemic, which affects two-thirds of adults and increases the risk for adverse health conditions such as type 2 diabetes. Adults are considered to be overweight if their body mass index is 25 or higher, and obese, if 30 or higher.
“Although this analysis does not attempt to estimate the effect of sugar-sweetened beverage intake on obesity incidence, a number of studies have linked sugar-sweetened beverage consumption to obesity and type 2 diabetes,” said Youfa Wang, MD, PhD, author and associate professor with the Bloomberg School’s Center for Human Nutrition. “Based on these nationally representative surveys, our study found higher sugar-sweetened beverage consumption also happened to be among populations at greater risk for obesity. There are few signs of improvement over the past decade and the situation seems to become worse among young adults aged 20 to 44.”
According to Bleich and colleagues, efforts to reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption may be an important strategy for reducing empty calorie intake in the adult diet in the United States.
“Increasing Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Among US Adults: 1988-1994 to 1999-2004” was written by Sara N. Bleich, Y. Claire Wang, Youfa Wang, and Steven L. Gortmaker.
The researchers were supported in part by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, grant 57891.
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