Rethink Your Drink

Families, Food and Fitness September 25, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

Choosing healthy beverages is a great first step to an overall healthy diet. Americans are drinking more soft drinks than ever. Per capita soft-drink consumption has increased almost 500 percent over the past 50 years. There is enough regular soda produced to supply every American with more than 14 ounces of soda every day. One reason for the steady rise in soft drink consumption is larger portion sizes; fountain drinks can range in size from 22 to 64 ounces. Children start drinking soda at a remarkably young age, and consumption increases through young adulthood.

People who drink soft drinks take in more calories than those who do not. Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages has been associated with weight gain, overweight, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. A 12-ounce can of soda has 150 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. If these calories are added to the typical diet without cutting back on something else, one soda a day could lead to a weight gain of 15 pounds in one year.

Sports drinks, another popular soft drink, are for athletes who participate in high-intensity, aerobic exercise for at least 90 minutes. Most kids are not this active. The added sugar and sodium in sports drinks are unnecessary for children and youth. Sports drinks offer little advantage over water for kids.

Try these tips to help you and your family re-think your drink:

  • Help children learn to enjoy water as the thirst quencher of choice.
  • Make soft drinks a “sometimes” beverage to be enjoyed in moderate amounts. Remember that soft drinks include fruitades, fruit drinks, lemonade, energy drinks, sweet tea, and sports drinks.
  • Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator for easy access.
  • Add lemon, lime, other fruit, or a splash of juice to water.

For more information: Re-Think Your Drink PDF

Beverage Guide to Sugars Interactive

Smart Vending Machine Choices Video


What America drinks: How beverages relate to nutrient intakes and body weight. Retrieved from

USDA Economic Research Services. Food and consumption (per capita) data system. Retrieved from

Jacobson M.F. 1989. Liquid candy: How soft drinks are harming Americans’ health. Center for Science in the Public Interest. Washington, DC: U.S. Retrieved from

Nestle M. 2000. Soft drink “pouring rights” marketing empty calories. Public Health Reports 115:308-319.

Malik V.S., Schulze M.B., Hu F.B. 2006. Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: A systemic review. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 84:274-88.

Rampersaud G., Bailey L., Kauwell G. 2003. National survey beverage consumption data for children and adolescents indicate the need to encourage a shift toward more nutritive beverages. Journal of American Dietetic Association 103(1):97-100.

Vartanian L.R., Schwartz M.B., Brownell K.D. 2007. Effects of soft-drink consumption on nutrition and health: A systematic review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Public Health 97:667-675.


More Articles

Rethink Your Drink

Quick and Healthy Recipes from Families, Food and Fitness



Connect with us

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest


This is where you can find research-based information from America's land-grant universities enabled by



This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.