We get a surprising number of calories each day from sweetened drinks.
According to a report released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics, adults and children alike on average get more than 100 of their daily calories from sugary beverages.
That may not sound like a lot, but it’s striking when it shakes out as a percentage of all the calories people consume in a day.
Specifically, the percentage of daily calories for children and adults that came from sugar-sweetened drinks from 2011 to 2014 was about 7%. The figure was a bit higher for boys (compared with girls) and for men (compared with women).
The report also found that about half of all adults over age 20 and about two-thirds of all children had at least one of these drinks every day.
Soda wasn’t the only sugar-filled drink considered in the survey. It also took into account fruit juice with extra sugar and sweetened bottled water, sports drinks, energy drinks, and coffees and teas with added sugar.
These types of drinks have been linked to weight gain, tooth decay, Type 2 diabetes and other conditions that can have a big impact on a person’s health. That’s because when we eat a lot of sugar without it accompanying protein and fat – things the body takes a longer time breaking down – our blood-sugar levels tends to rise quickly and drop just as fast.
The best ways to cut back on sugar
Sugar-sweetened drinks, while they may taste good, don’t tend to have any nutritional benefits that aren’t available in food. Switching them out in favor of water or drinks with no added sugar, along with reducing the added sugar you get from grain-based desserts, are the two best ways to cut back on sugar.
Drinks and foods with added sugar account for 16% of children’s diets, so these sweetened beverages account for almost half of that. The US Dietary guidelines released in January of last year recommend that fewer than 10% of a person’s daily calories come from food and drinks with added sugar and specifically call on people to cut out sugary drinks.
And ditching those drinks could pay off: According to a 2008 study of 173 obese women ages 25 to 50, researchers found that swapping out sweetened beverages with plain old water was linked with weight loss, independent from diet and exercise.