BATON ROUGE, La. – Americans are consuming less soda. Soda consumption has been declining over the past few years and is at the lowest it’s been since the mid-1990s.
Denise Holston-West, a registered dietitian with the LSU AgCenter, said efforts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate nutrition education program and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign are starting to pay off.
“People are more aware of what they are putting in their bodies, whether it’s soda or food with trans fat or high fat,” Holston-West said.
In many cases people are replacing sodas with more healthful options.
“One trend we’re seeing is individuals are increasing their bottled water consumption,” she said.
Holston-West said the downside to the trend is others are switching from sodas to energy drinks, which aren’t necessarily better. Energy drinks can often have added sugars equal to or greater than soda.
The biggest drop is in the consumption of diet sodas, which fell 6 percent last year. Holston-West said people are becoming wary of artificial sweeteners even though studies show they are safe.
Overall, the decline is apparent among children, with parents buying less soda for their families. Stephanie Cauble, a mother of three and a Baton Rouge physician, said sodas are not a part of her children’s daily diet.
“I am concerned about the health risks, specifically childhood onset type 2 diabetes,” Cauble said. “Letting them drink sodas as children leads to poor nutritional choices as they grow.”
Cauble also said sodas are an empty expense her family doesn’t need.
As the sales of soda have decreased, the prices have gone up. Holston-West said in this economy families may be choosing not to spend their limited resources on them.
Holston-West oversees Smart Bodies, the LSU AgCenter’s nutrition education and physical activity program designed to help prevent childhood obesity. The program targets youngsters in kindergarten through fifth grade.
Holston-West said by helping children establish healthy dietary behaviors in their youth, those behaviors are likely to follow them into adulthood.
She takes the program into schools and has noticed that schools are taking sodas out.
The World Health Organization recommends no more than 10 percent of an individual’s daily calorie intake come from added sugars, but Holston-West said the recommendation will soon decrease to five percent.
“Five percent is about 25 grams for an average-weight person,” she said. “You’ll fulfill that by drinking one soda.”