Status of Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption in Cook County

New research suggests setting 2018 New Year’s resolutions may not require heavy lifting. In fact, you may want to reach for the proverbial low-hanging fruit when it comes to making healthy dietary selections.

CDC reports that 70% of US adults are obese or overweight. And, while we know that sugar-sweetened beverage (SSBs) consumption is associated with obesity in addition to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dental caries, and osteoporosis, a 2017 study found that half of US adults still consume SSBs daily.

To understand beverage consumption in Cook County, IL, a research team led by Dr. Lisa Powell, Director of the Illinois Prevention Research Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, surveyed 2,581 adults.

Overall researchers found:

  • 1 in 4 Cook County adults reported consuming SSBs frequently (≥2 times per day).
  • Soda is the primary source of reported SSB consumption among adults.
  • On average, adults consume soda 0.6 times per day followed by fruit drinks (0.4 times), teas and coffees (0.4 times), sports drinks (0.3 times), and energy drinks (0.2 times).

Disparities exist by demographic and socioeconomic characteristics:

  • Men consume SSBs more often than women.
  • Younger adults consume SSBs more often than older adults and are more likely to be heavy consumers of SSBs (≥4 times per day).
  • One-fifth (~20%) of non-Hispanic white adults reported consuming SSBs frequently while just under one-third (~30%) of Hispanic and non-Hispanic black adults reported frequent SSB consumption.
  • Frequent SSB consumption was 2.6 times greater for low- versus high-educated women; in particular, low-educated women were 9 times more likely to frequently consume sports drinks and roughly 4 times more likely to frequently consume soda than higher-educated women.

There is good news. Individuals can swap SSBs for healthier alternatives and move mindfully into the new year. Water is a great alternative to SSBs as it calorie free, guaranteed to keep you hydrated, and tap water is especially easy on the wallet. The fizz from sparkling water offers an exciting alternative to still water. By making the healthy choice the default choice you can eliminate a few decisions in your day-to-day life and reduce a little bit of stress in the new year.

This study was funded by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Obesity Prevention Initiative.

Read the entire brief on SSBs in Cook County here.

About the image. Photo from Pixabay.


Andrea Pipito, MS, is the Project Manager for the Sweetened Beverage Tax Evaluation Project funded by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. With a background in obesity prevention, she is interested in systematically reviewing the evidence base and evaluating policies and programs that create sustainable and effective change to improve community health.