WASHINGTON — Beverages account for an average of 22% of calories Americans consume in a day, according to a newly released study called “What America Drinks.”
Commissioned by the Milk Processor Education Program and performed by Environ International, the study documents beverage consumption in the United States.
“The problem is that a great deal of the beverages Americans consume today are sugar-sweetened,” said registered dietitian Carolyn O'Neil. “There's a double whammy occurring because not only are people consuming more calories than they realize from beverages, they are typically taking in less nutrients. Americans trying to lose weight tend to focus on their plate, often overlooking the liquid portion of weight control.”
Close to 50% of Americans consume soft drinks on any given day, accounting for 6% of their calories, according to the study. Soft drinks contribute 36% of all added sugars to their diets.
The study also found that, on average, people who drink soft drinks consume 24 ounces a day. Teenage boys drink the most soft drinks, averaging 31 ounces per day.
Fruit-flavored beverages containing less than 100% juice are consumed by close to 20% of Americans and about 9% report drinking presweetened tea, according to the study. The combination of regular soft drinks, fruit drinks and presweetened tea contributes about 9% of the total calories and 49% of added sugars consumed.
In comparison, 45% of Americans consume at least some milk during the day, either by itself or in coffee or cereal. Americans who drink milk are, on average, consuming 13 ounces per day. Plain milk accounts for 4% of calorie intake, on average.
The report's findings indicate that in both teens and adults surveyed, the ones who drink more milk and less sugar-sweetened drinks tend to weigh less than those who drink more sugar-sweetened beverages and less milk.
“There are a lot of nutrients in milk that research suggests may play a role in weight management,” O'Neil said. “In essence, while there is a place for all beverages, consumers can get more bang for their buck with milk.”
In a bid to make consumers more aware of which beverages have nutritional, weight control and thirst-quenching benefits, the Milk Processor Education Program recently launched a new beverage website, thinkaboutyourdrink.com.
What Americans Drink was designed to document current beverage consumption in the U.S. by analyzing data from 10,000 Americans, ages 4 and older, who participated in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination, 1999-2000 and 2001-2002.