For years, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines urged Americans to drink less sugary beverages. And for years, many Americans listened.
But after a decade of falling consumption, rates have stalled at well above the recommended limit, according to statistics released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency found that adults and children are both consuming roughly the same number of calories from soda, sports drinks and other sugary beverages now as they did in 2009-2010, the last time the CDC published comparable data.
“The amount of sugar that children in particular consume is still astounding,” said Rachel Johnson, a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association. “We recommend that children drink soda once a week or less. We’re seeing that two-thirds drink it on a daily basis.”
The CDC numbers counter the perception that Americans are continuing to shirk sugary drinks and embracing a healthier lifestyle out of a desire to avoid the risks of obesity and diabetes. Researchers don’t exactly know why the leveling off has occurred, but there are several potential explanations. One is that while soda sales are down, Americans may be turning in growing numbers to teas, flavored waters and other energy drinks with plenty of sugar added.