Sugar in Drinks
A comprehensive list of sugar content in soda and energy drinks.
Where the sugar level is zero – the product is most likely sweetened with an artificial sweetener (such as aspartame, Splenda, acesulfame potassium, or stevia).
Too Much Sugar in Beverages
Compiling this list surprised us – the most sugar filled drinks are not what you think they are.
In a number of cases the level of sugar is outrageous and provides ample evidence as to why soft drinks play such a crucial role in addressing obesity.
Some drinks and juices have as much sugar as several Snickers candy bars and are definitely contributing to the obesity and type 2 diabetes crisis the western world is experiencing.
It is estimated that the average American consumes around 150 pounds of refined sugars a year. src.
Sugar Health Concerns
Too much refined sugar in the diet is linked to many adverse health conditions. The American Heart Association tells consumers to have no more than 6 teaspoons or 24 grams (women) or 9 teaspoons or 36 grams (men) of refined sugars each day.
Since many are having 4 times that amount, they are also reaping the health consequences of consuming too much sugar in drinks and other foods. Some of those include:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Heart disease
- Gum Disease
- Tooth decay
- Shorter lifespan*
- Early Puberty in Girls**
Americans may be starting to get the message about the dangers of sugar consumption. A recent study found that it is actually on the decrease for the first time in many decades.
Americans consumed 16.8% of their calories from refined sugars between 1999-2004, but between 2005-20010 this amount decreased to 14.9%.
The also corresponds to the decline in soda sales over the same time period. Hopefully, people are getting the message and consuming drinks with less sugar and more plain water.
Another recent study out of Maquarie University showed that sugar and caffeine when combined and fed to rats, produced lasting changes to brain chemistry. This could allude to how sugary sodas and energy drinks could possibly affect human brains.
The USDA released their 2015 Dietary Guidelines recently and it recommends the following concerning sugary beverages:
- Remove all sugary drinks from schools across the nation.
- Establish a separate category for “added sugars” on food and drink nutrition labels.
- Since there is substantial evidence that sugary beverages contribute to type 2 diabetes and therefore should greatly be reduced from Americans’ diets.
*Researchers from the University of California in San Francisco found that those who drink just 20 Fl.oz. of sugary soda a day may take as much as 4 years off of their lifespan. Not only do soft drinks contribute to disease, but they also shorten telomeres, which are the areas on our genes responsible for aging.
** Researchers from The Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School found that girls who regularly consume sugary beverages are more likely to develop early menstruation than girls who do not consume sugary drinks. This also increases the breast cancer risk of those girls later in life. Here are the study details.
Another recent study from The Harvard School of Public Health looked at the health effects of high-fructose corn syrup and sugar-sweetened soft drinks. They analyzed much of the research to date and found that 1 to 2 sugary beverages a day can lead to:
- As high as a 26 percent greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes,
- A 35 percent greater risk of heart attack or fatal heart disease, and
- A 16 percent increased risk of stroke
In addition, the CDC recently published a study which showed that two-thirds of all kids living in the US consume at least one sugary beverage daily. On average, boys consume 164 calories from sugary drinks each day and girls consume 121 calories daily from sugar-rich beverages.
What You Need to Know
Why is so much sugar placed in drinks?
- Caffeine is bitter. Most people address this by adding sugar to caffeinated beverages.
- Straight coffee (no milk, no sugar) is zero-calorie and sugar-free, but bitter so it is sweetened to improve flavor.
- Energy Drinks contain lots of sugar, particularly those that are juice/soda combinations. Rockstar Juiced and Punched are very high in sugar.
- A typical 16 fl oz energy drink contains around 50-60 grams of sugar. This is about 10-12 teaspoons of sugar.
See Also: SugarScience.org
- Yang, Q., Zhang, Z., Gregg, E. W., Flanders, W. D., Merritt, R., & Hu, F. B. (2014). Added sugar intake and cardiovascular diseases mortality among US adults. JAMA internal medicine, 174(4), 516-524. link
- Malik, V. S., Schulze, M. B., & Hu, F. B. (2006). Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 84(2), 274-288. link
- Malik VS, Hu FB. Fructose and Cardiometabolic Health: What the Evidence From Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tells Us. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015;66(14):1615-1624. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2015.08.025. abstract