The Sweet Truth About Sugary Beverages: How Much Is In Your Drink?

Sugary Beverages - Coke

The average American consumes 150 pounds of refined sugar every year.

And about one in four Americans consume 200 or more calories from sugary drinks every day. Sugary beverages are especially worrisome because they add calories to our diet, but often we act like drinks “don’t matter” towards our daily calorie/nutrient intake.

Many beverages contain as much or more sugar than we’re supposed to consume in an entire day! If you consider many people drink several sugary beverages a day, you can see how this adds up.

So do you know just how bad these sugary beverages actually are? Check out the brief video below for an illustration of this in action:

Recommended Daily Sugar Intake

The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 24 grams of sugar a day (about 6 teaspoons) and that men consume no more than 36 grams a day (about 9 teaspoons).

To put this into perspective, one 12 ounce can of Coke contains 7.8 teaspoons of sugar — already more than a woman should consume in a day, and close to the maximum recommended amount for men.

What’s the big deal? Our bodies need sugar.

That’s true. Our bodies need sugar to fuel the brain and muscles. But there’s a difference between added and natural sugars.

Added Sugars

Added sugar forms simple carbohydrates, which are basically just empty calories. Added sugars add calories to your diet without providing any nutritional benefit.

Natural Sugars

Natural sugars are found in almost every food we eat and form complex carbs, which retain nutrients. They provide vitamins and minerals as well as energy.

How do I know if it’s added sugar or natural sugar?

Added sugar is often hidden under names like:

  • Cane juice/cane syrup
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Honey
  • Molasses

(Not So) Fun Facts About Sugar

  • You could eat almost 2.5 Snickers candy bars for the same amount of sugar as in a 20 ounce bottle of Coke.
  • Obesity costs approximately $147 billion annually.
  • 1/4 of Americans consume at least 200 calories a day from sugary beverages.
  • Contrary to popular belief, juice is not healthier than soda. You’re getting sugar without any vitamins or nutrients like you would by eating the entire fruit.
  • Sugary drinks are the number 1 source of added sugar in our diets, and the number 1 source of calories for teens.

Most of what we eat contains at least some sugar, whether that be natural or added, so it can be difficult to avoid it at all costs. Just remember the AHA guidelines for sugar intake, and be proactive in reading nutritional labels so you can ensure you’re not pumping your body full of too much sugar!

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About Amanda

Amanda is a former digital communications coordinator and frequent blogger for the, a website focused on truck driver health initiatives. Our mission is to encourage truck drivers to embrace a healthier lifestyle by providing both expert advice and real world experiences. Let us be your co-driver on the road to a healthier, happier life!