Even though it’s widely known that soda can contribute to weight gain, the majority of adults don’t actually know how many calories are in a bottle of soda, a new study reveals.
The research, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and based on data from 3,926 adults, shows that eight in 10 adults — 84.4 percent — know that sugar-sweetened beverages can promote weight gain. However, nearly the same percentage of adults — 81 percent — did not know (or inaccurately stated) the number of calories in 24 ounces of soda. (There are 251 to 350 calories in a 24-ounce soda).
In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers found that knowledge about sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain, as well as the calorie information of sugar-sweetened beverages, differed by sex, household income, education level, and race.
Specifically, women, non-Hispanic white people, those with higher household incomes ($75,000 to $99,999 each year) and college graduates were the most likely to know that sugar-sweetened beverages can contribute to weight gain. And people ages 25 to 44, college graduates, married or domestically partnered people, those with higher household incomes and non-Hispanic whites were the most likely to know the calorie information for a 24-ounce soda.
The study also revealed differences in sugar-sweetened beverage intake among different groups. Nearly one-third of people in the study said they drank a sugar-sweetened beverage one or more times a day in the last seven days. Men, young adults (ages 18 to 24), people with lower incomes ($34,999 per year or less) and people who did not complete high school were the most likely to consume the drinks two or more times a day.
Researchers noted that more research is needed to determine if knowledge about sugar-sweetened beverages actually affects intake of the drinks.
However, they did say that the “findings suggest that knowledge that drinking SSBs [sugar-sweetened beverages] can contribute to weight gain is significantly associated with consumption of SSBs among adults and can be used to identify individuals who may need additional nutrition education regarding the potential contribution of excess energy intake from SSBs to weight gain,” they wrote in the study. “In addition, adults with less education, lower-income individuals, men, and minorities should be targets of nutrition education because their knowledge level is lower but SSB intake is higher in these groups.”