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Americans Are Drinking Less Soda, But We’re Still Addicted to Sugar

Americans Are Drinking Less Soda, But We’re Still Addicted to Sugar

While the United States has become known as a nation with a Coke can in its hand, our addiction to soda is actually dwindling. In fact, according to data from Beverage Digest, in 1998 Americans drank an average of 51 gallons of soda per year. Today, we’re down to 44 gallons, about 20 percent less. In 2013, soda sales actually fell by 3 percent, which may not sound like a lot, but in a country of fizzy drink guzzlers, it’s notable.

But it’s not just the classic sodas that are slipping down the slope. Diet sodas saw a 6 percent decrease in 2013. Some attribute this to an increase in awareness, thanks to both policy and advertising.

“I have been amazed at the number of studies that have been published over the past five years that have vilified sugar-sweetened beverages in general, and soda in particular. On the policy front, legislation has been introduced in California and elsewhere calling for a warning label on soda similar to the warning label on alcohol-containing beverages [regarding pregnant women] or warning labels on tobacco products. All of this is raising public awareness of the potential dangers of sugar-sweetened beverages,” Barbara J. Moore, president and CEO of Shape Up America!, told ABC News.

A decline in soda is a good thing when it comes to sugar intake — drinking one 12-ounce soda a day can increase your chance for Type 2 Diabetes by 22 percent. When it comes to our health, we know that added sugars are taking a big toll; a recent study found that 71.4 percent of adults in the U.S. “get more than the recommended 10% of their daily calories from added sugars in foods and drinks.”

But does the decline in soda consumption mean that we’re consuming less sugar overall? According to some data, we are in fact consuming less sugar, but if we expand the data selection, we can also see that overtime we are on a general trend of increased sugar consumption. It all depends on how you look at the numbers.

The average American eats about 130 pounds of sugar a year, so while that number may be down from a few years ago, it’s by no means healthy. We’re still sugar addicted, and it’s not just sodas that are to blame. While people may have kicked the soda habit, they may have replaced it with equally sugary drinks, not to mention all of the added sugars in other processed foods.

Since the 1950s, the average American’s consumption of high fructose corn syrup has gone up from zero pounds per year to 63.8. Reducing that number isn’t just going to happen from a reduction in soft drinks. We’ll need to reduce our intake of all prodcuts that involve added sweeteners.

The World Health Organization has a draft proposal out for new guidelines, encouraging people to get less than 5 percent of their daily calories from sugar. That’s down from 10 percent, which was in the organization’s 2002 guidelines. As the WHO points out, getting the numbers down to that level is going to require really thinking about what we’re eating. “Much of the sugars consumed today are ‘hidden’ in processed foods that are not usually seen as sweets. For example, 1 tablespoon of ketchup contains around 4 grams (around 1 teaspoon) of sugars. A single can of sugar-sweetened soda contains up to 40 grams (around 10 teaspoons) of sugar,” states the WHO website.

Are Americans addicted to sugar? In a big way, but we can only hope that the decline in soft drinks is the beginning of a decline in added sweeteners overall.

Here are some tips on how to get yourself to eat less sugar.

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89 comments

+ add your own
8:50AM PDT on Jul 12, 2014

There are no support groups for Sugar or Chocolate Addictions! These are real addictions!

6:54AM PDT on May 13, 2014

Most women seem to be addicted to chocolate including me !

8:47AM PDT on Apr 22, 2014

Thanks.

2:04PM PDT on Apr 20, 2014

Speak for yourself. I am not addicted to sugar, don't like chocolate and rarely eat candy....

3:31PM PDT on Apr 19, 2014

Thanks

6:33PM PDT on Apr 18, 2014

i haven't a sweet tooth and try to drink more water just sometimes u like a different drink all in moderation.without hidden sugars i would not get any as i don;t like the taste of sugar. so can be important too.

5:07PM PDT on Apr 18, 2014

I'll fully admit to being addicted to sugar....

3:00PM PDT on Apr 18, 2014

There are healthier sweeteners on the market: stevia, rice syrup, barley malt, and sunchoke syrup.

8:21AM PDT on Apr 18, 2014

Thanks.

5:44PM PDT on Apr 17, 2014

Unfortunatley in the south where we are they drink it INSTEAD of water

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