Introduction: Reports of Big Soda’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, based on Healthy Food America’s new research brief. Recent media stories have focused on soda consumption falling and bottled water rising to become the most popular beverage in America. While that may be cause for some celebration, focusing on the decline of soda oversimplifies how the sugary drink landscape has changed. There are many more now – and we still consume historically high quantities.
For this research brief we analyzed trends in sugary drink consumption from 2005-06 to 2011-12 – a period when the U.S. beverage market shifted away from soda and toward other sugary drinks. Undoubtedly, soda consumption has declined in the U.S. since the early 2000s. But that comparison says more about Big Soda’s predominance in the early 2000s, when soda was at its apex, three times higher than in the late 1970s and by far the most popular sugary drink.
Our review finds that recent progress has been limited to conventional soda and largely offset by increases in other sugary drinks. Collectively, consumption of all sugary drinks reached a plateau and remained there from 2005-06 to 2011-12. True, consumption is not as high as it was in in 2000, but it remains twice as high as it was in past generations. Americans still consumed an average of almost 200 calories of sugary drinks per day in 2011-12.