Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) are drinks with added sugar including: non-diet soft drinks/sodas, flavored juice drinks, sports drinks, sweetened tea, coffee drinks, energy drinks, and electrolyte replacement drinks. The calories in sugar sweetened beverages can contribute to weight gain and provide little to no nutritional value. Sugar-sweetened beverages do not fill you up the same way that food does. Those extra calories can lead to other health risks including obesity, tooth decay, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

What you should know

  • Approximately 11% of the calories youth consume come from sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Each 12-ounce soft drink per day consumed by children increases their odds of becoming obese by 60%. more
  • Among young children, aged 1 through 5 years, consumption of sweetened, carbonated soft drinks was associated with an 80-100% increased risk of dental caries. more
  • To burn off the calories from a 12-ounce can of soda, a 75-pound child needs to bicycle vigorously for about 30 minutes - an average adult would need to walk at a moderate pace for 25 minutes to burn off the same soda. more

What you can do

To stay healthy, pay attention to what you are drinking. Beware that some drinks claim to be packed with vitamins, antioxidants and other healthful ingredients but they are often loaded with sugar.

Cut back the sugar, one drink at a time

There are plenty of healthy and tasty alternatives to sugar-sweetened beverages. If you find it hard to make the switch, start slowly. Use this chart as a guide to help you and your family make smart beverage choices.

  • Choose water, or low-calorie beverages instead of sugar-sweetened beverages;
  • Add some freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice to plain water or sparkling water;
  • Add ¼ - ½ cup of 100% juice to sparkling/seltzer water;
  • Make your own unsweetened iced tea with decaf tea bags or herbal tea bags;
  • Use low calorie hot chocolate and low fat milk for a tasty treat;
  • Make water more exciting by adding slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, or watermelon.