Image: Vinni/Flickr

A newly release national survey reveals that Americans drink a boatload of sugary drinks. I know, shocking news. None the less, here are some of the key findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey:

SEX: Males consume more sugar drinks than females.

AGE:  Teenagers and young adults consume more sugar drinks than other age groups.

RACE:  Black children and adolescents consume more sugar drinks in relation to their overall diet than their Mexican-American counterparts. Black and Mexican-American adults consume more than white adults.

INCOME: Low-income persons consume more sugar drinks in relation to their overall diet than those with higher income.

LOCATION: Most of the sugar drinks were consumed away from home are obtained from stores and not restaurants or schools.

The other major finding is that approximately half of the US population consumes sugar drinks on any given day. At first, I was actually surprised as I thought that number seemed low. Then I read the definition of  what was and was not considered a “sugar drink:”

“…sugar drinks include fruit drinks, sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, and sweetened bottled waters…Sugar drinks do not include diet drinks, 100% fruit juice, sweetened teas, and flavored milks.”

It seems crazy to me that they did not include sweetened tea or flavored milk since both have ADDED sugars. And what about diet drinks? I’ve noticed they are always excluded from studies on regular soda consumption. I want to see data on all forms of soda with any ADDED sweetener. While I’m not a proponent of drinking fruit juice, at least there is no added sugar. If you include diet drinks, flavored milk (can’t you hear Jamie Oliver’s voice now?), etc. how high does that 50% number climb? Are 75% of the US population drinking sweetened beverages daily? Maybe even 90%?

When something like 10% of our daily calories come from sugary beverages (not to mention all the accompanying caffeine, artificial colorings, and preservatives) you can start to see where some of our health problems come from. Do yourself a favor and make the commitment to switch to plain old water.  If you want something refreshing, add ice and a twist of real lemon. Start looking at sodas and fruit drinks as dessert, because that is essentially what they are (without all the fun of chocolate!).  And no, water with added “flavor crystals” or foofy pink granules that turn your water into pomegranate lemonade or ocean splash (what is that??) doesn’t count. Just water. I know, it’s tough, but it is one of the best dietary changes you can make for yourself.

Read the full report here: Consumption of Sugar Drinks in the United States, 2005-2008