Re-Think Your Drink

Re-think Your Drink

The average person eats almost 175 pounds of sugar a year -- about half a pound a day. The single biggest source is sugary drinks. The extra calories from all that sugar leads to weight gain that can put people at risk for lifelong health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.

Did You Know?

  • Soda is the number-one source of sugar in the American diet.
  • 30% of all calories consumed daily are from sweetened beverages.
  • Americans spend $56 billion annually on purchasing sugary soft drinks.
  • U.S. teens consume twice as much soda as milk.
  • Drinking just one 20-ounce bottle of soda each day for a year can result in gaining 25 extra pounds.

Sugar Content in Popular Beverages


Soda Sweetened tea drink Sports drink Water
20 ounces 16 ounces 20 ounces All you want
240 calories 220 calories 140 calories 0 calories
17 teaspoons of sugar 13 teaspoons of sugar 9 teaspoons of sugar 0 teaspoons of sugar

What to Drink

Instead of sugary drinks, try the following refreshing thirst-quenchers:

  • Water (every day, all you want). Add a slice of orange, lemon, lime, or cucumber to your water for a boost of flavor.
  • Nonfat or low-fat milk.
  • Fruit sparklers. Mix 100% fruit juice with water or seltzer to cut back on calories and sugar. Note: Babies under 6 months generally should not have juice; younger childrenup to 6 years old should have only 4 to 6 ounces; older kids 8 to 12 ounces.
  • Unsweetened iced tea. If you like it sweetened, add lime, mix in cut-up peaches and fresh mint sprigs, or add a little Splenda®.
  • Diet soda (once in awhile).
  • Sports drinks and vitamin waters are a better option than soda, but they still contain a lot of sugar. Drink them occasionally or when you're exercising at a high intensity for 60 minutes or more.

A Word on Energy Drinks

Energy drinks are full of sugar and caffeine. A healthy diet, exercise, and a good night's sleep are the best energy boosters, but if you need a quick fix, a coffee drink made with skim milk or tea is a better choice.

Reviewed by: Kate Christensen, MD, July 2007

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