Sugar-Sweetened Beverages: A Look at the Facts

Sweetened beverages, sometimes known as sugar-sweetened beverages or SSBs, range from carbonated and noncarbonated soft drinks to energy drinks and vitamin and other sweetened waters.

Here are some facts about sugar-sweetened beverages:

  • Approximately one-half of the population 2 years of age and older consumes sugar drinks on any given day
  • Males consume an average of 178 calories from sugar drinks daily, while women consume 103 calories
  • People who drink sodas, juices, and other caloric beverages do not compensate for these calories by consuming fewer calories in food, which is a major factor contributing to overweight and obesity
  • People who drink sugary sodas consume more calories overall than those who do not
  • Individuals who drink sugar-sweetened beverages consume fewer healthful beverages, such as milk, water, and 100% fruit juices, compared to those who do not drink sodas
  • Most carbonated beverages, fruit drinks, fruit juices, iced teas, sports drinks, and energy drinks contain similar calories, from 120 to 160 calories/12-fluid-ounce (fl oz) serving—the body processes these beverages the same way it processes sugar
  • Soda servings have increased over the years:
    • A typical 20-fl-oz soda contains 15 teaspoons (tsp) of sugar
    • The average sports drink contains approximately 10 tsp of sugar
  • Soda consumption may contribute to dental decay because of:
    • The sugar in regular soda
    • Acids in both diet and regular soda
  • To burn off the 250 calories in a 20-fl-oz soda, a 135-pound person would need to:
    • Walk 3 miles in 45 minutes
    • Play 40 minutes of vigorous basketball
    • Bicycle vigorously for 22 minutes

References and recommended readings

Mello MM, Pomeranz J, Moran P. The interplay of public health law and industry self-regulation: the case of sugar-sweetened beverage sales in schools. Am J Public Health. 2008;98(4):595-604.

Ogden CL, Kit BK, Carroll MD, Park S. Consumption of sugar drinks in the United States, 2005-2008: NCHS Date Brief 71. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db71.pdf. Accessed May 3, 2013.

Popkin BM. Patterns of beverage use across the lifecyle. Physiol Behav. 2010;100(1):4-9.
doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2009.12.022.

Van Horn L, Johnson RK, Flickinger BD, Vafiadis DK, Yin-Piazza S; Added Sugars Conference Planning Group. Translation and implementation of added sugars consumption recommendations: a conference report from the American Heart Association Added Sugars Conference 2010. Circulation. 2010;122(23):2470-2490. doi:10.1161/CIR.0b013e3181ffdcb0.

Fountain machines / Calories and sugar in each drink
Soda Sugar/20oz. Calories
Pepsi 69g 250
Diet Pepsi
Mtn. Dew 77g 290
Mtn. Dew Code Red 77g 280
Brisk Iced Tea-Unsweet
Wild Cherry Pepsi 70g 260
Mtn. Dew Kickstart Black Cherry 26g 110
Diet Mtn. Dew
Dr. Pepper 64g 250
Diet Dr. Pepper
Barq’s Root Beer 75g 270
Fanta Vanilla
Fanta Orange 75g 270
Gold Peak Sweetened 53g 200
Fanta Cherry 74g 270
Hi-C 60g 260
Sprite 64g 240
Diet Coke
Coca-Cola Zero
Coca-Cola 65g 240

*American Heart Association: Shouldn’t have more than 36g(M) 24g(W) of added sugar/day.