One quarter of US high school pupils are drinking one soda every day, fewer than in the past, says a new report issued by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). The authors explained that water, fruit juices and milk are considerably more popular among teenagers than sodas.

The report, titled ” Beverage Consumption Among High School Students – United States, 2010,” involved 11,429 nationally representative high-school students from the 2010 National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Study (NYPANS). The report appears in the CDC’s publication MMWE (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report).

The students completed a questionnaire, which among other things asked how often they had consumed the following drinks during the previous seven days: energy drinks, regular sports drinks, diet soda (or pop), regular soda (or pop), 100% fruit juices, milk, and other SSBs (sugar-sweetened beverages).

However, when other sweetened drinks are included, such as Gatorade, approximately two-thirds of high school students have at least one per day. Towards the end of the 1990s over three-quarters of teenagers had one sugary drink each day.

US health authorities and health care professionals have long linked the country’s high childhood obesity rates to the consumption of sugary beverages.

29% of American teenagers consumed at least one soda a day in 2009, compared to 24% in 2010, the authors reported.

Some experts wonder whether teenagers are underreporting their soda consumption. Among young people today there is much better awareness regarding the health consequences of over-consuming sodas.

Below are some facts from the study:

  • 72.4% drink a serving of water daily
  • 16% have a sweetened sports drink each day
  • 17% have a flavored milk, sweetened tea, or some other kind of sugary drink each day
  • African-American teenagers tend to consume more sugary beverages than their Caucasian or Hispanic peers do
  • Boys on average consume more sugary drinks that girls
  • 42% consume at least one glass of milk each day
  • 15% have a minimum of one cup of coffee or tea each day
  • 7% have at least one diet soda each day
  • 30% have a 100% pure fruit juice each day

The authors write that 100% fruit juices and milk are sources of key nutrients, such as vitamin C, calcium, as well as water. On the other hand SSBs have very poor nutritional value, and are only really seen as a source of water. SSBs are the single largest source of added sugars in the diet of young Americans.

The report urges parents, schools and youth-oriented institutions to take measures to reduce SSB consumption by teenagers, while at the same time encouraging them to consume healthier drinks.

The authors inform that water, low-fat, or fat-free milk are healthy drinks. 100% fruit juices are too if low amounts are drunk. They add that according to the American Academy of pediatrics, children should avoid routinely drinking sports drinks.

“Beverage Consumption Among High School Students – United States, 2010”
Nancy D. Brener, PhD, Caitlin Merlo, MPH, Danice Eaton, PhD, Laura Kann, PhD, Div of Adolescent and School Health, Sohyun Park, PhD, Heidi M. Blanck, PhD, Div of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC. Corresponding contributor: Nancy D. Brener
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) June 17, 2011 / 60(23);778-780

Written by Christian Nordqvist