The High Intake of Sugar-Sweetened Drinks

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Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, primarily carbonated beverages like sodas, is a major contributor to reported occurrences of obesity and overweight. In most cases, obesity causes a number of conditions. Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disorders, and cancers including prostate cancer are just a few examples of these ailments. [1] More than 1 billion individuals worldwide are overweight, according to data provided by the World Health Organization (WHO). [2] Obese people are those whose body mass index (BMI) is greater than 25 kg/m2. In the statistics that were conducted in the US alone about 129.6 million people were found to be overweight. A third of these populations in the US are obese. [1]

Executive Summary

The world wide’s core reason for death is non-communicable diseases (NCDs). In 2012 (68%) that is about 38 million out of 56 million died. [17] Among those deaths 16 million approximately 40% were premature, for example, those below 70 years. Amongst the 28 million deaths 82% have happened in countries with low level of life.[17] Physical inactivity and poor diet are the most modifiable risks as they are the causes of most of the NCDs, the lack of exercise and poor diet are among other leading causes of obesity. Many NCDs independent risk factors are increasing worldwide. [17]

The positive feedback of energy balance is highly contributed by free sugars that are aided by the energy density of the diets. [18] Maintaining of energy balance in the body is very challenging, and ensuring ideal intake is critical for sustaining. In the US, more concern has been raised on the free sugars, mainly from beverages that have been sweetened. Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) have reduced the rate of consuming food that has nutritional values. [19]

Scope of the problem

Weight gain and Sugar-Sweetened Intake

The number of people suffering from obesity has been increasing at an alarming rate over the last two decades. The condition has reached epidemic proportions in many countries of the world including the US. Approximately 130 million of age between twenty and seventy are overweight with 30% of the number having the condition. [3] The exact etiology of the disease has not yet been known though the most popular cause is an imbalance of energy homeostasis. According to data from a National survey done in the US, showed that, in the last two decades, an increase in the uptake of sweetened carbohydrates is the leading cause of the increasing number of people with obesity. [4] There was a 22% increase in the absorption of caloric sweeteners between 1977 and 1996. [4]

Latest statistics reveal that the average consumption of sweetened foods and beverages by Americans accounts for 16% of the total energy with non-diet soft drinks being the most used source. Of all sugary foods that are consumed in the US, 47% drinks. [5] 54 kcal of this is from soda consumption. Averagely 150 kcal is contained in a 12-oz serving of soda with 50 grams sugar in the US which depicts presence of 55% fructose and 45%glucose corn syrup as high fructose levels that can be equaled to ten teaspoonfuls of table sugar. By considering a steady intake of these calories in a typical US diet, a person is estimated to gain 6.75 kilograms a year. [6]

Obesity Epidemic and Major Contributors

In the US, obesity has been largely manifested in a third and two third of children and adults respectively. [7] The country is thus compelled to spend about $190 million annually providing health care services to obese people. [8] The escalated numbers of overweight people and obesity can be blamed for the increase in consumption of sweetened foods and beverages. 20-ounce of soda has been found to contain about 17 teaspoons of sugars and more than 240 calories. Manufacturing of these drinks spends approximately $3.2 billion in marketing their products with the most targeted audience being children aged between 2 and 17 years. [10]

Consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks

The table below analyses the percentage of how children consume the sugar-sweetened beverages.

Consumed % by children

Fruit juice


Sugar-sweetened soft drinks


Fruit drink




Sports drink and flavored water


In the last 40 years, there have been incidences of increased use of SSBs the children and the adults. Before the 1950s the standard soft-drink was only for the small bottles that did not have many liters of beverages. [12] The beverage companies, however, increased the size of the bottles and they ended up making even the 12-ounce can by the 1960s. This enabled people to have access to the sugar-sweetened snacks widely and thus increasing their consumption. [11]

Impacts of consumption of the sugar-sweetened drinks

Research which was carried out showed that in most cases people do not account for the excess energy that they get due to the consumption of the sugar-sweetened drinks. They believe that this will increase the total energy intakes and also the facts that non-alcoholic beverages stimulate appetite leads people to consume other energy sources. In a review conducted the drinking of the soft drinks was the accounting factor for the one-fifth of the population that had gained weight in the U.S.A. The survey was conducted between 1977 and 2007. According to a study conducted 20 years ago that was carried on 120,000 people, involving women and men, who had increased their sugar-sweetened drinks, and therefore, gained more weight. [13]

Policy Alternatives

Excise taxes

Use of taxes has been put in place to curb the incidences of obesity. It aims at substantially decreasing the consumption of sweetened drinks (SSBs). SSBs has impacted a lot to the US economy due to the huge amount of many that are used in it and hospitalization of the people suffering from its complications. In the previous research, it was found out that, imposing a tax against SSBs will decrease its usage by 15 percent in older adults. It depicted out that, with such reduction, medical costs of about US $17 billion is safeguarded, prevent premature deaths of about 26000, 8000 strokes, coronary heart diseases in among 95, 000 people and avoid DM in 2.4 million folks annually. [14]

The government also is also taxing the products of the sugar-sweetened companies. With the government doing this, the prices for these commodities are rising. The consumption of the sugar-sweetened products will reduce as a result of these high prices of the soft drinks. Examples of countries in the world that have increased the prices of the sugar-sweetened drinks due to taxing are; Mexico, France, and Hungary. Mexico increased its taxing on the sugar-sweetened drinks by 10% on 14 January. By December of that same year, statistics proved that the purchase of the sugar-sweetened products had reduced in the country. The decrease in purchase of sugar-sweetened drinks was in all the socio-economic groups in Mexico.

School Access

Industries used to target public schools for their products mostly. In the past, therefore, industries had freedom to sell their products to pupils and students. They sold their products through supporting education initiatives like athletics, educational support by giving funds as they advertise their products in schools. However, the US's organizations like Alliance for a Healthier Generation (AHG), American Heart Association (AHA) and American Beverage Association (ABA), facilitated the banning out of the plentiful supply of soft drinks containing full-calorie, to schools. It the resulted to a decrease of 90 percent amount of these beverages into schools in the year 2004 to 2010. [15]

School-based programs can be used to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks by the children. The school-based programs can have a short term reasonable impact on the consumption of these drinks by children. The school-based programs can be conducted through carrying out educational campaigns in schools and teach the children the effects of consuming the sugar-sweetened beverages. The educational campaigns should be extended to the whole school approach and set up. This will include also enlightening the parents and families the effects of consuming sugar-sweetened drinks.

Marketing of SSB

There is high competition in the US market among the beverages manufacturing industries. Due to the stiff competition, organizations on daily basis try to lay strategies on how to earn more sells. As per the results, children are prone to buy the most advertised SSBs. This has raised concern against industries. In 2006, Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), was established by Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBB). [15]

Product Diversification

The school-based programs can be used to reduce the consumption of these drinks among the children through carrying out educational campaigns in schools and teach the children the effects of consuming the sugar-sweetened drinks and the need for other nutrients. The educational campaigns should be extended to the whole school approach and set up. [16] This will include also enlightening the parents and families the effects of consuming sugar-sweetened drinks.

Dietary Assessment

The dietary assessment method has also been employed to evaluate the levels of beverage consumption for the body. Two largest investigations were done by Backholer [13] and Troiano [16], both studied the previous year's intake of SSBs and evaluated drinks over the next years. Their research helped people to gauge whether they are supposed to reduce their consumption of SSBs whenever energy levels are high in their bodies more than the previous year.

Economic Rationale

When markets fail to produce products according to the law, the intervention of the government is warranted and accepted by the economists. Regarding the use of SSBs, most of the markets have failed to observe the policies governing the consumption. Many people do not agree that there is a relationship between consuming of such beverages and the health condition. Thus, companies lure their susceptible minds and persuade them through advertisement to buy and use sweetened drinks. The government, therefore, has to restrict those companies from manufacturing the goods with high levels of sugars.

Portion sizes

Due to high and advancing technology, industries are now requested to make High-corn syrup (HFCS) using the fructose obtained from conversion of glucose (the corn syrup). This production has reduced the cost supplying caloric sweeteners. It shows that it is viable to manufacture this product as it increases the companies’ chances to sale more. There was a 62% (21.0 ounce) increase of SSBs average sales size from 1994 to 1996 as compared to 13.6 ounces, quantity that was used between 1977 and 1979. [9]

Policy Recommendations

There is a number of recommendations that should be implemented. Some general campaigns should be done by the government, non-governmental premises and schools to ensure that public awareness of the effects of sugar-sweetened drinks. The US should impose restrictions to minimize the exposure of children to the sugar-sweetened beverages while the local government should develop policies to ensure that the access of the soft drinks or the sugar-sweetened drinks is as minimized as possible by reducing its usage in the workplaces and also in public places.


Conclusively, feasting of the SSBs has gone high over the years and there are many examples of the effects of the soft drinks consumption. Children prefer such the drinks more than the adults. All the ways of quick accessing the sugar-sweetened drinks such as the low prices of the non-alcoholic beverages and the high availability of these beverages should be dealt with to evade illnesses. Educational campaigns on the hazards on the sugar-sweetened drinks should be addressed to the public in order to increase people’s awareness of the current problem.

Reference list

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Antioxidant Activity of Biological Fluids and Modified Version for Simultaneous Measurement

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Body Mass Index among US Children and Adolescents, 1999-2010. Jama. 2012; 307(5): 483-490.

3. Hailu, G, Cranfield, J, Thangaraj, R. Do US Food Processors Respond to Sweetener‐Related Health Information?. Agribusiness. 2010; 26(3):348-368.

4. Popkin, BM, Nielsen, SJ. The sweetening of the world's diet. Obesity.2003;11(11):1325-1332.

5.Guthrie, JF, Morton, JF. Food Sources of Added Sweeteners in the Diets of Americans. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2000; 100(1):43-51.

6. Apovian, CM 2004. Sugar-sweetened Soft Drinks, Obesity, and Type 2 diabetes. Jama.2004;292(8):978979.

7.Flegal, KM, Carroll, MD, Kit, BK, Ogden, CL, 2012. Prevalence of Obesity and Trends In The Distribution Of Body Mass Index Among US Adults, 1999-2010. Jama. 2012;307(5):491-497.

8. Cawley, J, Meyerhoefer, C. The Medical Care Costs of Obesity: An Instrumental Variables Approach. Journal of Health Economics. 2012; 31(1):219-230.

9. Nielsen, SJ, Popkin, B.M, 2. Changes in beverage intake between 1977 and 2001. American journal of preventive medicine. 2004; 27(3):205-210.

10. United States. Federal Trade Commission. 2008. Marketing Food to Children and Adolescents: a Review of Industry Expenditures, Activities, and Self-Regulation. Washington, DC: US FTC; 2008.

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12. Hasselkvist, A, Johansson, A, Johansson, AK. Association between Soft Drink Consumption, Oral Health And Some Lifestyle Factors in Swedish Adolescents. Acta Odontologica Scandinavica. 2014; 72(8): 1039-1046.

13. Backholer, K, Sarink, D, Beauchamp, A, Keating, C, Loh, V, Peeters, A. The Effect of a Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax among Different Socioeconomic Groups: A Systematic Review. Obesity Research & Clinical Practice. 2014; 8: 4-5.

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Bystander CPR on Neurologic Outcome in Survivors of Prehospital Cardiac

Arrests. Resuscitation. 1989; 17(1): 91-98.

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April 13, 2023

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