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4 in 10 adults drink 7 or more sugary beverages each week

Sep 30, 2017


According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, almost half of all added sugar consumed in the nation comes from beverages.1 Sugar adds calories to a person's diet without providing nutrients needed to be healthy. The Guidelines recommend limiting added sugars to 10% of daily calories. If people consume more than that, they may not get the nutrients they need from fruits, grains, vegetables, protein and dairy products.

Studies have shown that drinking one or more sugary beverage per day—equivalent to seven or more each week—can increase the risk of obesity,2 diabetes3 and heart disease.4,5

While most people know that soda has added sugar, other drinks such as sweet tea, sports drinks and fruit drinks also contain added sugar. The 2017 Community Health Status Survey asked Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky adults how many sodas and other sugar-sweetened drinks they consume each week.

Rural adults more likely to drink sugary drinks

Four in 10 adults in the region (40%) reported drinking seven or more sodas or sugar-sweetened drinks each week, an average of at least one per day. However, some adults in the region were more likely to report drinking sugary beverages.

Six in 10 adults in rural Kentucky counties6 (59%) and about half of adults in rural Ohio counties7 (53%) and rural Indiana counties8 (48%) reported drinking seven or more sodas or sugar-sweetened drinks each week. About 4 in 10 adults in urban Kentucky counties9 (42%), the city of Cincinnati (37%) and suburban Ohio counties (36%)10 reported this. In Hamilton County suburbs, 3 in 10 adults reported drinking seven or more sugary beverages each week (32%).

Adults with less income, men, African Americans more likely to drink sugary beverages

Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages also varied by income, sex and race.

More than half (54%) of adults earning 200% or less of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG)11 reported drinking seven or more sodas or sugar-sweetened drinks each week. This compares with about 3 in 10 adults earning more than 200% FPG (32%).

Drinking sugary beverages also varied by sex and race. Nearly 5 in 10 men (48%) reported drinking seven or more sugar-sweetened beverages each week, compared with more than 3 in 10 women (33%). Similarly, half of African American adults (50%) reported drinking seven or more sugary beverages each week, compared with 4 in 10 white adults (40%).

1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015;“2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Retrieved from

2 Mozaffarian, D., Hao, T., Rimm, E.B., Willett, W.C., & Hu, F.B. (2011). Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med, 364, 2392-2404.

3 Malik, V.S., Popkin, B.M., Bray, G.A., Despres, J.P., Willett, W.C., & Hu, F.B. (2010). Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes: A meta-analysis. Diabetes Care, 33, 2477-2483.

4 de Koning, L., Malik, V.S., Kellogg, M.D., Rimm, E.B., Willett, S.C., & Hu, F.B. (2012). Sweetened beverage consumption, incident coronary heart disease, and biomarkers of risk in men. Circulation, 125, 1735-1741.

5 Fung, T.T., Malik, V., Rexrode, K.M., Manson, J.E., Willett, W.C., & Hu, F.B. (2009). Sweetened beverage consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women. Am J Clin Nutr, 89,1037-1042.

6 Bracken, Carroll, Gallatin, Owen and Pendleton counties.

7 Adams, Brown, Clermont and Highland counties.

8 Dearborn, Franklin, Ohio, Ripley and Switzerland counties.

9 Boone, Campbell Grant and Kenton counties.

10 Butler, Clinton and Warren counties.

11 In 2015, 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for a family of four was $48,500.

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