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Rethink your drink

bell peppers

Quench your thirst without the sugar

The average person eats almost 79 pounds of sugar a year — about half a pound a day. The single biggest source? Sugary drinks.

Extra calories from all that sugar leads to weight gain that can put people at risk for lifelong health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.

Did you know?

  • Soda is the top source of sugar in the American diet.
  • U.S. teens drink twice as much soda as milk.
  • Americans spend $73.9 billion annually on sugary soft drinks.
  • Sugary drinks do not make you feel full, and may actually make you hungrier a few hours after drinking them.

Sugar adds up

girl drinking waterAmericans consume 300 more calories per day than we did 30 years ago. Almost 50 percent of those calories come from sugary drinks, making them a major contributor to the obesity epidemic.

How does this add up?

Drinking just one 20-ounce bottle of soda each day for a year can result in gaining 25 extra pounds.

Many sports drinks and vitamin waters have fewer calories and less sugar than soda, but they still have a lot. Consuming just one of these drinks every day for a year will result in a 10 to 13 pound weight gain. Avoid them unless you are participating in a triathlon or other very strenuous exercise.

Energy drinks are often full of sugar and caffeine. Drink just one per day and you'll see about 20 pounds added to your weight. A better way to get the energy you need? Healthy eating, regular exercise, and plenty of sleep.

And while coffee drinks might give you a pick-me-up feeling, the average coffee drink adds over 300 calories to your day. That can mean 30 extra pounds of weight gain per year. If you need a quick fix, tea or coffee drinks made with nonfat milk are better choices.

Compare average sugar and calorie content per serving in some of the most popular drinks.

BeverageServing size Calories per servingSugar per serving
Soda20 oz24017 g
Sweetened tea drink16 oz22013 g
Sports drink20 oz1409 g
Energy drink16 oz20054 g
Sweetened coffee drink16 oz38030 g
WaterUnlimited00 g

Healthy drink choices

Instead of sugary drinks, try another refreshing thirst-quencher.

  • Add a slice of orange, lemon, lime, or cucumber to your water for a boost of flavor.
  • Mix sparkling water with a splash of your favorite fruit juice.
  • Mix in just a bit of pomegranate or cranberry juice and lime in your unsweetened iced tea, or add cut-up peaches and fresh mint sprigs if you like it sweetened.
  • Drink a glass of nonfat or 1 percent milk.

Reviewed by: Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD, May 2011
Additional Kaiser Permanente reviewers

©2011 Kaiser Permanente