Joining The 'Drink Less Soda' Bandwagon

LOS ANGELES , April 3, 2013 () – I made a major life decision last week.

I decided to majorly cut down on my soda intake.

Understand something: If I have one vice in this world, it’s carbonated soft drinks. I don’t smoke, I’m not a big alcohol drinker, and I’ve never even experimented with drugs. But I had a $2-a-day Diet Dr. Pepper habit, and it was getting out of hand.

Every day at work was the same sight: An open laptop, a 2-liter bottle of pop and a cup of ice to help wash it down.

It had to end one day, and following a recent conversation with the wife, I decided to limit my soda drinking to just meal times. Now a bottle of soda can last me three days instead of maybe one.

My decision to limit the Diet Dr. Pepper is just an example of a recent trend in the U.S. that has seen soda drinking fall dramatically while consumption of healthy beverages such as bottled water rise.

According to recent statistics by industry tracker Beverage Digest, Americans currently drink an average of 44 gallons of soda a year, a 17% drop from its peak in 1998. Over the same time period, the average amount of water people drink has increased 38% to about 58 gallons a year. Bottled water has led that growth, with consumption nearly doubling to 21 gallons a year.

Amid rising obesity and other health concerns, the trend away from soft drinks makes sense. Everyone from doctors to health advocates to government officials blame soft drinks for making people fat. And then you have guys like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg trying to ban the use of large sodas at restaurants, which is kind of like trying to ban hot dogs and nachos at sporting events. So of course, people will start turning to bottled water—whose popularity was helped by the emergence of single-serve bottles that were easy to carry around—as an alternative.

Consumers like myself will never fully stop drinking soda. Too many of us have grown up with it. But neither are we immune to the health concerns that we hear about on a daily basis. The trend away from soft drinks is going to continue. Companies like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple are going to have to adjust accordingly.

Nevin Barich is the Food & Beverage Analyst for Industry Intelligence Inc. He’s a soda-holic, but from now on, water is his primary beverage. He can be reached at

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