Promoting Healthy Families, Schools, and Communities in New Jersey
GMGHNJ Logo

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Sugar is in many of our foods and beverages. It is important to remember to limit our intake of these sugars because a high sugar diet can lead to dental caries and many health concerns. Our bodies process sugars in a manner that often leads to weight gain. Excessive weight gain can lead to obesity, which is one of the most significant precursors to illnesses that have long-term detrimental effects on our bodies.

Many people find it hard to believe that a drink can have a higher sugar content than many foods. For example, a piece of cake is frequently thought to have more sugar than the beverage accompanying it. In general, a 12 oz. can of soda contains about 40 grams of sugar whereas a cupcake with frosting is roughly 24 grams (keep in mind that 4 grams is equivalent to 1 teaspoon). Consuming that 12 oz. soda is like sitting down with a bowl of sugar and eating 10 teaspoons.

It is common knowledge that soda is not "healthy" because of sugar, but also because soda does not contain any other beneficial nutrients. However, there are many drinks we consider "healthy" that can still contain high amounts of sugar. For instance fruit juices can be high in sugar. Orange juice, although full of vitamin C and possibly fortified with vitamin D and calcium, contains over 27 grams of sugar. Some "water" beverages that brand themselves as containing "vitamins" may indeed have some beneficial vitamins, minerals and even calcium; however, these beverages contain over 13 grams of sugar. In addition, a typical "sports drink" has over 25 grams of sugar. To keep track of the amount of sugar that is consumed daily, one has to take into account the amount found in beverages, meals, and snacks. Foods and drinks that contain naturally occurring sugars like whole fruit and fruit juices, are often the better choice because they may contain other nutrients that are good for us as compared to beverages that have had sugar added during processing.

So think about what you are drinking. There is probably more sugar hidden than you may have even considered. Along with healthy eating and increasing physical activity, decreasing your consumption of sugar sweetened beverages will help promote well-being and a healthier life.

For More Information