Sugar-Sweetened Beverages: The Not-So-Sweet Truth

When we’re watching what we eat, sometimes we don’t think about what we drink.  If we aren’t careful, a large amount of calories can come from the beverages we drink with meals or as snacks. The majority of these excess calories come in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages. These are beverages that have some form of sugar added to the beverage.  Some beverages, such as fruit juices may already have naturally occurring sugar in them. But many more have added sugars in the form of corn syrup or other sweeteners.

In the typical American diet, about 15% of the total calories come from added sugars. That equates to about 22 teaspoons of sugar per day or a little over 3 cups per week. Sugar sweetened beverages like energy drinks, sports drinks, and sodas are the biggest contributors to this sugar consumption.


Because these beverages are so popular, they are seen everywhere – in vending machines, snack bars, and of course the grocery store. And because the added sugars have no nutritional value other than calories, health officials are concerned about the negative effect that these beverages have on our health. The concern is so great that recently the City of Berkeley, CA has been trying to pass a tax that will be added to these beverages with the intention of reducing their consumption. (Check out Measure D).

It has been discovered that over time, the consumption of these sugar-sweetened beverages can be detrimental to health by increasing the risk of obesity and cardiovascular issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging schools, families, and other programs and locations to make an effort to offer healthy beverage choices. The CDC is also taking steps toward the initiative of reducing the access of these beverages to youth, in big part because of how high the obesity rates have become in children.

So, what can you do to better your health in terms of beverage intake?

  • Increase your water consumption! Try adding fruit like lemon or lime to your water for an extra kick if you don’t prefer the taste of plain water. A second choice alternative would be to try zero-calorie drink mixes in your water.
  • Choose low-fat milk options and 100% fruit juices. Try the fresh juices at Jamba Juice in Turner Place that are made right in front of you with no added sugars. These options have oranges, carrots, mangoes, bananas, and more!


Decreasing your daily intake of sugar-sweetened beverages will have a positive effect on both long and short-term health. Put down the soda and pick up one of these options today!




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