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CDC releases numbers on sugary-drink consumption

August 31, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Despite public health messages and legislation to limit sugary drinks, Americans just can't get enough of them.

Newly released numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show Americans are consuming millions of gallons of non-diet soda and sports drinks, including high-caffeine energy beverages, starting young with kids given all types of sugary juices.

On average, males consume 175,000 total calories from sugar drinks on a given day. That's equal to a can of soda a day.

The CDC report shows 5 percent of Americans consume at least 567,000 total calories from sugar drinks, equal to at least four cans of soda per day.

Alexis Miranda, 20, drinks five sodas a day. That's about a thousand extra calories.

"They're sweet, I just like it," Miranda said. "When I feel sleepy or when I feel tired I get a sugary drink just to pick me up."

The new CDC report finds half of all Americans drink sugar sweetened drinks every day. Experts say drinking sugar is worse than eating it.

"These are empty calories. Basically, they are just consuming them out of habit," said endocrinologist Dr. Christian Gastelum, who heads the diabetes clinic at White Memorial Medical Center. "The amounts they need are huge compared to what they actually need. They will consumer two to three times of calories they need per day."

Gastelum says the statistics of people who drink the most sugary drinks coincides with the groups who have the highest rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

"They're easy, inexpensive calories that people can get their hands on, so they eat them and they consume them every day," Gastelum said.

And who is the biggest offender? According to the CDC research, teenage boys drink the most soda, energy drinks and other sugary liquids.

"When they walk into any of their corner stores, that's the first thing usually that's displayed to them, as opposed to water, and sometimes water will be even more expensive than some of those sugary drinks," Gastelum said.

So what should we do now that we know how much we're actually consuming?

Gastelum says drink more water and limit sugary soda and sports drinks to only two a week.

When it comes to juice, "I'd much rather you eat an orange than drink orange juice," Gastelum said. "All you're doing is taking out all the fiber and the pulp out of the actual orange that's going to fill you up and just squeezing out the water and the sugar," Gastelum said.

The number one place Americans consume the most sugar liquids is at home. That's because most beverages in your refrigerator are all store-bought.

As for diet sodas, Gastelum says they don't have all the calories, but he'd rather we'd all just drink water.


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