U.S. Beverage Guidance Panel

Panel Members | Recommendations and Analysis | Publications and Presentations

You Are What you Drink, and We Are Drinking Far Too Many Calories from Beverages!

Starting a Solution

The Beverage Guidance Panel was assembled to provide guidance on the relative health and nutritional benefits and risks of various beverage categories. Initiated by Barry M. Popkin, Ph.D., the panel’s purpose is to systematically review the literature on beverages and health and provide guidance to the consumer. In addition, the panel aims to develop a deeper dialogue among the scientific community on overall beverage consumption patterns in the United States and the potential to significantly change this pattern as a way of improving health.

About 21 percent of the calories consumed in the United States comes from beverages. Figure 1 shows the variation by age in the levels of intake in 2001 and the ounces of intake from each source.

Figure 1. Percentage of Daily Caloric Intake from Each Beverage

Figure 1a and b show the beverage intake pattern in both ounces and calories from the 1999–2002 NHANES surveys of a nationally representative U.S. population sample. The pattern for adults aged 19 years and older was selected. These figures show that water, tea, and coffee intake—the unsweetened beverages—comprise 70 percent of the total volume and contribute only 2 percent of the calories. In contrast, calorically sweetened soft drinks and fruit drinks provide 46 percent of the calories.

NOTE: Figure adapted with permission by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. © Am J Clin Nutr. American Society for Nutrition.

NOTE: Figure adapted with permission by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. © Am J Clin Nutr. American Society for Nutrition