Childhood Obesity and Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSBs)

The rise in obesity has become a major health issue in the United States.

Percent overweight or obese

Notes: Overweight children (ages 2-19) are defined by sex- and age-specific BMI ≥ 95th percentile
based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts (CDC, 2009b); obese adults
(ages 20-74) are defined by a BMI of ≥ 30.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Health and Nutrition
Examination Surveys (NHANES).

Between 1990 and 2007, the prevalence of obesity among Vermont adults has doubled.

In Vermont in 2009:

  • 12.9% of children aged 10-17 were obese and another 13.8% were overweight.
  • 24% of adult males were obese and another 43% were overweight
  • 21.7% of adult females were obese and another 25.3% were overweight.

Over the last 30 years, sugar sweetened beverage (SSBs) consumption has increased dramatically, particularly among children.

Percentage of Beverage Calories from Sweetened Beverages and Milk, for Children Ages 2–18

The average person drinks 45 gallons of SSBs each year.

Soda is now the third largest source of calories for children ages 2-18.

Annual consumption for children who reported having had at least one SSB on the day they were surveyed:

Boys: Girls:
Ages 2-5: 47 gallons/year 41 gallons/year
Ages 6-11: 65 gallons/year 51 gallons/year
Ages 12-19: 108 gallons/year 77 gallons/year

(National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2004)


  • For children, each extra can or glass of SSB consumed per day increases their chance of becoming obese by 60%.
  • People who drink 1-2 servings a day of SSBs are 26% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people who drink 0-1 serving a month.
  • Regular consumption of SSBs is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular heart disease in women, even after other unhealthful lifestyle or dietary factors are accounted for.
  • Overweight and obesity contribute to 14 to 20 percent of all cancer deaths and have been associated with increased risk for several common cancers including colon, esophagus, kidney, endometrial and breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
  • Children who consume more soft drinks, relative to milk and 100% fruit juice, have a greater risk of developing dental caries as they grew older.

According to a study published by the University of Vermont’s James Jeffords Vermont Legislative Research Service, in 2010 the cost of obesity for the State of Vermont, its employers, and private citizens was estimated to be $615.2 million. This includes half of all Medicare and Medicaid expenses ($163 million) which are attributable to obesity.

Click here to see some the amount of sugar in other sugar sweetened beverages

Click Here for More Information on SSB Consumption and Their Link to Obesity and Other Health Problems