Although consumption of diet beverages has been rising, just 20% of the U.S. population drank these beverages on any given day between 2009 and 2010, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Between 2000 and 2010, the percentage of females who consumed any diet drinks on a given day rose from 17.8% to 21.2%, while the percentage of males doing so rose from 13.9% to 19%.
CDC defined diet drinks as calorie-free and low-calorie versions of sodas, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, and carbonated water. It excluded 100% fruit juices and unsweetened teas and coffees.
Some key findings from the new diet-drink study, based on 24-hour dietary recall interviews conducted at mobile examination centers during 2009-2010:
* Daily volumes: On a given day, about 3% consumed some but no more than 8 fluid ounces of diet drinks, and 11% consumed 16 fluid ounces or more.
*Gender patterns: Percentages of males and females consuming diet drinks were similar across age groups, except for those ages 12 to 19. In that age bracket, just 9.5% of males drank them, versus 17.4% of females.
*Age patterns: Consumption generally rises with age, up to age 60. About 8-9% of those ages 2 to 5 consume diet drinks daily; about 11% of those 6 to 11; about 19-21% of those 20 to 39; about 26-28% of those 40 to 59; and about 23% of those 60 and older.
* Race/ethnicity patterns: 27.9% of non-Hispanic white adults consumed any diet drink on a given day during 2009-2010, compared with 10.1% of non-Hispanic black and 14.1% of Hispanic adults. 15.3% of non-Hispanic white children and adolescents consumed diet drinks, versus 6.8% of non-Hispanic black and 7.5% of Hispanic children and adolescents.
* Income patterns: 32.6% of adults living at or above 350% of the poverty line consumed diet drinks, versus 20.1% of those living between 130% and 350% of the poverty line, and 12.2% of those living below 130% of the poverty line. 18.3% of children and adolescents living in households with income at or above 350% of the poverty line consumed diet drinks, compared with 11.5% of those living between 130% and 350% of the poverty line, and 8.0% of those living below 130% of the poverty line.
The CDC study notes that the increase in the percentages of consumers who drink diet drinks found during the 2009-2010 period “was mirrored by a decrease in consumption of added sugar calories in regular soda over a similar time period.” (Referencing a study by Emory University researchers published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in September 2011, which covered all types of added-sugar sources in diets. That study also concluded that even taking the decrease in soda added-sugars into account, added-sugar intake levels continued to exceed recommended limits.)
The CDC study states that the diet-drink study results suggest that sugar drinks may have been replaced with diet drinks. It adds that “although substituting sugar drinks with diet drinks may promote weight loss in the short term, it is unclear if long-term consumption leads to weight loss, weight maintenance or even weight gain.”