Americans consume nearly 200-300 more calories per day than 30 years ago, with largest single increase in calories due to sugar-sweetened beverages, research indicates

SILVER SPRING, Maryland , June 1, 2012 (press release) – The Obesity Society supports the efforts of Mayor Bloomberg to ban the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages larger than 16 ounces. This is a measure that will help efforts to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, which research shows are a major contributor to increased calorie intake by both children and adults, thus potentially contributing to the nation's obesity epidemic.

Two-thirds of American adults and over half of Canadians are overweight or obese (1-2). In addition to the significant cost it imposes on the nation's health care system, obesity at any age increases the risk of many chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes, and can significantly worsen quality of life.

Although obesity is caused by myriad of factors, there is a large body of evidence suggesting that a significant contributor to consumption of extra calories over the last three decades is the over-consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages including soda, sports and energy drinks, fruit drinks, and enhanced waters (3). Research indicates that Americans consume nearly 200-300 more calories per day than 30 years ago, with the largest single increase in calories due to sugar-sweetened beverages. (4) Calories from sugar-sweetened beverage are empty calories because they are typically devoid of nutrients other than simple sugar. In contrast, 100% fruit juices, while containing natural sugars, do often contain vitamins and minerals. Research also suggests that sugar-sweetened beverages fail to produce the feeling of satiety that occurs from calories derived from solid foods, thus potentially contributing to overeating. (5)

The substantial increase in calorie intake from sugar-sweetened beverages is explained in part by increasing portion size: the 6 1/2 ounce single serving bottle enjoyed in the 1960s has given way to the 20 ounce drink found in vending machines and store cold cases, and to the 20-32 ounce drinks in chain stores and restaurants. The New York initiative specifically targets this problem and attempts to bring serving sizes of these beverages back to a more reasonable range. Although the relationship between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and increased calorie intake is strong (3), it should be noted that not all research demonstrates a link between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and obesity. (6)

Sugar-sweetened beverages have also been demonstrated to have an adverse effect on obesity-related chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension. In a study of 91,249 women followed for 8 years, those who consumed one or more servings of soft drink per day were twice as likely as those who consumed <1 serving per month to develop diabetes. (7) These effects remained significant after controlling for BMI, energy intake and other potential confounders. Studies have also found associations between sugar-sweetened beverage intake and blood pressure. (8)

About The Obesity Society

The Obesity Society is the leading scientific society dedicated to the study of obesity. The Obesity Society is committed to encouraging research on the causes, treatment, and prevention of obesity as well as to keeping the scientific community and public informed of new advances in the field. For more information, please visit


1. Ogden CL, Carroll MD, McDowell MA, Flegal KM. Obesity among adults in the United States— no change since 2003–2004. NCHS data brief no 1. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2007

2. Statistics Canada, CANSIM, table 105-0501 and Catalogue no. 82-221-X. Last modified: 2010-11-05. Accessed online at

3. Vartanian L, Schwartz M, Brownell K. Effects of soft drink consumption on nutrition and health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Pub Health. 2007; 97(4): 667:675.

4. Finkelstein EA, et al. Economic causes and consequences of obesity. Ann Rev Pub Health. 2005; 26: 239-257.

5. DiMeglio DP, Mattes RD. Liquid versus solid carbohydrate: effects on food intake and body weight. Int J Obes.Relat Metab Disord. 2000; 24(6): 794:800.

6. Mattes RD, Shikany JM, Kaiser KA, Allison DB. Nutritively sweetened beverage consumption and body weight: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized experiments. Obes Rev 2010 May 26 [EPub ahead of print]

7. Schulze MB, Manson JE, Ludwig DS, Colditz GA, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Hu FB. Sugar-sweetened beverages, weight gain, and incidence of type 2 diabetes in young and middle-aged women. JAMA. 2004; 292(8):927-34.

8. Raben A, Vasilaras TH, Moller AC, Astrup A. Sucrose compared with artificial sweeteners: different effects on ad libitum food intake and body weight after 10 wk of supplementation in overweight subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002;76(4):721-9.

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