Over nearly the past 30 years, U.S. children and adolescents have dramatically increased their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), including soda, fruit drinks and punches, and sports drinks. Such consumption has been linked to less healthy diets and a number of other negative health consequences, including decreased bone density, dental decay, headaches, anxiety and loss of sleep. A new research synthesis from Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, examines the evidence regarding the various health impacts of SSB consumption, presents initial conclusions based on these studies and identifies areas for further research.
Key findings from the research synthesis include:
- In 2004, adolescents consumed an average of 300 calories per day from SSBs, accounting for 13 percent of their daily caloric intake.
- SSB consumption leads to excess caloric intake and weight gain, as well as increased obesity rates among children and adolescents.
- Substituting other beverages, such as water, for SSBs could reduce over-consumption of calories and improve nutrition.
The synthesis is part of a growing body of research that examines the health impacts of sugar-sweetened beverages and the possible public health and economic benefits of taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages. Additional journal articles, research syntheses and policy briefs that explore the health impacts of SSB consumption, as well as the possible health and economic benefits of taxes on SSBs, are available on the Foundation’s Web site.