A sweetened beverage is any beverage with added sugar. They have been described as "liquid candy." Consumption of sweetened beverages has been linked to weight gain, obesity, and associated health risks.
Non-nutritive sweeteners (NNSs) have been introduced into the market in non-caloric drinks such as diet sodas. These artificial sweeteners are popular due to the growing demand for alternatives to sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). These sweeteners are more potent than regular, natural sugars. NNSs have shown to help short-term weight loss initiatives, but they don't show significance in the long-term. Recent studies have been conducted to see whether or not NNSs pose a great risk for the development of certain diseases. One such study researched the effect of NNSs with cardiovascular disease. The research was taken using post menopausal women. Women who consumed two or more diet drinks (containing NNSs) were found to be 30% at risk for cardiovascular disease. There has been a decline in liquid calories due to the introduction of NNSs.
Sugar-Related Health concerns
A number of studies suggest that there is a significant correlation between increased consumption of sweetened beverages and weight gain leading to obesity. There has also been an association between consumption of sweetened beverages and health risks such as coronary heart disease and diabetes. Due to negative health effects of overconsumption of sweetened beverages, a sweetened beverage tax (soda tax) has been recommended by the Institute of Medicine in 2009.
Some countries have tried to reduce sugary beverages in an effort to bring liquid caloric intake down. Mexico placed a tax on SSBs in 2014. Drinks that were not taxed included drinks with NNSs, milk with no added sugar, and water. Other governments are active in placing policy on school lunches or what is being offered in school cafeterias in regards to beverages. Governmental activity is trying to eventually slow down the obesity epidemic.
Sweetened beverages in the United States
The increase in consumption of sweetened beverages has been described as a worldwide health problem, but it is particularly visible in the United States, from where most popular drinks, like sodas, have originated. In the US, sweetened beverages such as most sodas are the most widely consumed type of foods containing added sugar, and they account for about a third of all consumption of added sugars (about half if counted together with fruit juice); about twice the amount that is gained from the categories of "desserts" and "sweets"). They represent about 7% of total energy intake, where they can account for up to 15% in children, and have been described as the "largest single food source of calories in the US diet". The consumption of sweetened beverages has increased in the US since the 1970s, accounting for a significant portion (perhaps as high as a half) of the rise in caloric intake among the American populace. Some more recent research suggests that the added sugar consumption in the US has started declining in the 21st century, due to a related decrease in the consumption of sweetened beverages, encouraged by the government health awareness initiative and other programs.
The following drinks have been classified in the USA as sweetened beverages if they contained sugar or other caloric sweeteners: fruit or fruit-flavored drinks, energy drinks, flavored water, coffees, teas, nonalcoholic wines and beers.
Influence of the Household and Media
Children's taste preferences are mainly influenced at a young age. Parents/guardians and their habits can shape what a child bases their preferences on. One study was performed that was aimed to see what adults looked at when choosing a beverage versus what children looked at. Adults looked to see if drinks had sugars, caffeine, and additives. Children also sometimes mentioned additives. Most children in the study were ages 7–10. It is assumed that most children that age don't understand the meaning of additives, thus the influence of parents on children's decisions is evident. In addition, the media showcases certain brand names of SSBs but also NNSs. This marketing influences choices made at the grocery store, at schools, and out in public places.
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