Decreasing Trends in Heavy Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption in the United States, 2003 to 2016

Kelsey A. Vercammen, Alyssa J. Moran, Mark J. Soto, Lee Kennedy-Shaffer, Sara N. Bleich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Although previous studies have documented declines in intake from sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) in the United States, it is important to examine whether heavy SSB intake (≥500 kcal/day) is decreasing in parallel. Examining the intake patterns of heavy SSB consumers is imperative because these individuals face the greatest health risks and thus may benefit the most from targeted policy and programmatic efforts to reduce intake. Objective: To provide the most recent national estimates for trends in heavy SSB intake among children and adults in the United States between 2003-2004 and 2015-2016, to examine whether these trends differ by sociodemographic characteristics, and to describe where SSB are acquired and consumed by the heaviest SSB consumers. Design: Trend analyses of demographic and 24-hour dietary recall data in the 2003-2004 to 2015-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Participants/setting: Participants were 21,783 children (aged 2 to 19 years) and 32,355 adults (aged ≥20 years). Main outcome measures: Heavy SSB intake (≥500 kcal/day). Statistical analysis: Survey-weighted logistic regression was used to estimate the proportion of heavy SSB consumers, overall and by age group, race/ethnicity, sex, and income status (lower income = <130% Federal Poverty Level). Proportions were used to summarize where SSB are most often acquired and consumed. Results: Between 2003-2004 and 2015-2016, the prevalence of heavy SSB intake declined significantly among children (10.9% to 3.3%) and adults (12.7% to 9.1%). For children, these declines were observed across age group, sex, family income status, and most races/ethnicities. For adults, these significant declines were observed among 20- to 39-year olds, most races/ethnicities, and higher-income adults. However, there was a significant increase in heavy SSB intake among adults aged ≥60 years and no significant change among 40- to 59-year olds and non-Mexican Hispanic adults. The majority of energy intake from SSB consumed by heavy SSB drinkers was from products acquired from stores and was consumed at home. Conclusions: Heavy SSB intake is declining, but attention must be paid to certain subgroups with high intake for whom trends are not decreasing, particularly 40- to 59-year olds and non-Mexican Hispanic adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1974-1985.e5
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Obesity
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Trends analyses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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