These researchers looked at the contribution of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) to higher calorie intake for SSB consumers compared to non-consumers. They used the What We Eat in America, National Health and Nutrition Examinations Survey (NHANES) for four survey periods over eight years (2003–2010). The sample included data on 10,955 children ages 2–18 years. SSBs included sweetened soda, fruit drinks (not fruit juice), sports drinks, energy drinks, and milk containing added sugar.
For all three age groups (2–5 years, 6–11 years, and 12-18 years) SSB consumers had higher total calorie intake than non-consumers.
For the youngest children and those age 6–11, consumption on non-SSB calories did not differ between SSB consumers and non-consumers. For these children, SSBs are the main reason for higher caloric intake of SSB consumers compared to non-consumers.
Among the older children, food intake increased for every 100-calorie increase in SSB intake, meaning both food and SSBs contributed to higher caloric intakes. In this age group, SSB consumers ate more pizza, burgers, fried potatoes, and savory snacks than non-consumers of SSBs, foods that Americans should limit in their diets.
High SSB consumers had lower consumption of milk, fruit juice, and fruit.