Americans Are Drinking Less Soda Than Ever Before, Study Says
But there is still room for improvement.
A recent study published in the journal Obesity found that Americans are drinking fewer sugary beverages than they were a decade ago.
The study, of about 45,000 children and adults, looked at trends between 2004 and 2014, and found that children are consuming 19 percent fewer sugary drinks (defined as “soda, fruit drinks and punches, sports drinks, low-calorie drinks, and other sweetened beverages”) while adult consumption is down 11.5 percent.
According to the study, this decline can be attributed to changes in food allowances in special nutrition programs, as well as improvements in school cafeteria offerings, ingredient changes by manufacturers, and the general discussion of food’s role in obesity through media coverage.
The findings follow the trend of previous studies that looked at the decline of soda consumption. These include a 2015 study which found soda consumption has dropped 25 percent since the early 1990s and a 2016 study showing declines of 1.2 percent over the previous year, in the 11th consecutive year of soda declines.
The switch from sugary drinks to healthier options can also be attributed to the move by many cities across the U.S. to legislate soda taxes.
The nation’s first soda tax was passed in 2014 in Berkeley California, followed by six additional cities across the country, and most recently Seattle, Washington. Studies have found evidence that these taxes have a major impact on consumption, specifically for those in low-income neighborhoods. Chain retailers in Philadelphia, for example, experienced a 57 percent decline in taxed beverage sales within six months of the tax, the Guardian reported.
Though this is good news, public health professionals remain concerned. The Obesity study also found that young adults and older adults still get the majority of their beverage calories from sugary beverages.
In addition, the results exposed a major gap between who had cut sugary drinks from their diet, and who hadn’t. Specifically, respondents who identified as black, Mexican American, or non-Mexican Hispanic still had higher rates of consumption, and children, adolescents, and young adults had the highest rates every year of the survey.