CDC Studies Provide State-Specific Information on Adult Consumption of
Sugar Sweetened Beverages
In two recently published studies, CDC researchers (for the first time) have analyzed state-specific data from the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) on how often adults consume sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB), specifically regular soda and fruit drink (not 100% juice). SSBs are a major source of added sugars and have been linked as a contributor to obesity as well as other chronic health conditions. Researchers examined whether factors such as age, sex, and race/ethnicity, as well as behaviors were associated with drinking sugary beverages.
The studies--one that is online in CDC’s Preventing Chronic Diseases Journal (PCD) and the other in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)--used data reported from 6 states with the 2011 BRFSS and reported from 18 states with the 2012 BRFSS, respectively. Both the 2011 and 2012 BRFSS included an Optional Module that states chose with two questions about SSB consumption. The questions allowed respondents to report on frequency of two different types of SSB intake—soda and fruit drinks (e.g., Kool-Aid™ and lemonade).
About the 2011 BRFSS Study published in PCD
Nearly 39,000 adults residing in 6 states (Iowa, Wisconsin, Delaware, Hawaii, Minnesota, and New Jersey) were surveyed by telephone. Researchers were interested in how sociodemographic characteristics (age, sex, and race/ethnicity) and respondents’ behavioral characteristics, such as whether or not they were physically active, ate fruits and vegetables, smoke, and drank alcohol were related to SSB intake. Almost 1 of 4 adults (24%) of adults reported drinking at least one of the two types of SSB daily. Those who drank SSBs one or more times per day were more likely to be:
- Younger adults
- Non-Hispanic black adults
- Adults with low income
- Adults with low education
- Adults who ate fruit less than once a day
- Adults who were not physically active
- Adults who currently smoked
Findings also showed that adults who reported drinking any alcohol drank sugar sweetened beverages one or more times per day less frequently.
About the 2012 BRFSS Study published in MMWR
In this study, 115,291 adults in 18 states were surveyed and researchers evaluated sociodemographic characteristics related to SSB intake (i.e., regular soda and fruit drinks). Among the 18 states, about 1of 4 adults reported SSB intake daily. Other findings from the study showed:
- The prevalence of daily SSB consumption among states ranged from 20.4%‒41.4%.
- Mississippi (41.4%) and Tennessee (39.2%) had the highest prevalence of daily SSB consumption.
- The prevalence of daily regular soda consumption was the highest in Mississippi (32.4%) and Tennessee (30.2%).
- The prevalence of daily fruit drink consumption was the highest in Nevada (18.7%), Mississippi (17.0%), and Tennessee (16.5%).
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends reducing foods and beverages with added sugars. Reducing SSB intake may help with reducing calories and the risk of chronic diseases prevalent among adults in the United States. People who want to reduce their daily added sugar intake could consider replacing these drinks with healthier options such as water.
The findings in these studies can be used by states to understand current SSB intake among dults. The optional module is available in the BRFSS for states to conduct surveillance of SSB intake.