Increasing Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Among US Adults: 1988-1994 to 1999-2004

Adult consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) increased significantly between the periods 1988–1994 and 1999–2004. Both the percentage of the U.S. adult population consuming SSBs and the quantity consumed followed the same upward trend.

This study charted national changes in the consumption of SSBs.Researchers compared data from the two most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, NHANES-III and NHANES 1999–2004. Each NHANES used a 24-hour dietary recall to obtain data from survey respondents.  Researchers coded beverage items into six categories that respondents reported consuming. In addition to demographic statistics, NHANES collected information related to body weight status, intention to lose weight, and socioeconomic status.

Key Findings:

  • In NHANES III and NHANES 1999–2004, SSBs contributed more calories to the diets of U.S. adults than any other beverage type.
  • The average serving size per SSB rose from 11 ounces to 17 ounces.
  • The percentage of overweight, obese adults who consumed SSBs was significantly lower among those intending to lose weight.

Increased consumption of SSBs has accompanied rising obesity rates. Uncovering associations between demographic characteristics and SSB consumption might lead to targeted policies and interventions. The use of a single 24-hour dietary recall is a possible limitation of this study.