According to new research from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Americans on the whole are drinking fewer sugary beverages than they were a decade ago. Unfortunately, consumption levels have not declined evenly among all racial and ethnic groups and the rate of consumption for all Americans still exceeds the limit recommended by government health officials. In addition to obesity, sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are linked to dental caries, erosion, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. In light of this, public health advocates and researchers have ramped up education programs to encourage Americans to reduce their consumption of SSBs.
To conduct the study, data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) from 2003 to 2014 was analyzed. In total, over 18,600 children between the ages of 2 and 19 and 27,652 adults age 20 and older were interviewed by NHANES researchers about their overall beverage consumption within the past 24 hours. Researchers found SSB consumption declined significantly between the 2003-2004 survey and 2013-2014 survey for both children and adults. The number of calories consumed from sugary drinks also declined, while water consumption rose.
"Overall, beverage consumption declined for children and adults from 2003 to 2014, driven primarily by a decrease in the percentage of SSB drinkers and lower per capita consumption of SSBs," the researchers concluded. "However, adolescents and young adults still consume more than the recommended among of SSBs set by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and levels of SSB consumption are persistently highest among black, Mexican-American, and non-Mexican Hispanic individuals, who are also at higher risk for obesity."
Impact on General Dentistry: The AGD is pleased to see the rate of consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages decline as a whole and will continue to educate the public about the need to moderate consumption to protect dental health.