msnbc.com news services
updated 8/31/2011 12:43:50 PM ET 2011-08-31T16:43:50

About half of Americans drink a sugar-sweetened beverage on any given day, with teenagers and young men consuming way more than recommended limits for staying healthy.

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A new study found that one in 20 drinks the equivalent of more than four cans of soda each day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research also showed teenage boys drink the most soda, sports drinks and other sugary liquids.

Researchers from the CDC interviewed 17,000 Americans about their diets. The average male in the survey consumed 175 calories in a day from drinks containing added sugar, while the typical female consumed 94 calories from such drinks.

Boys aged 12 to 19 consumed 273 calories a day from sugar-sweetened drinks, or the equivalent of about two 12-ounce cans of carbonated cola -- more than any other group. Men aged 20 to 39 consumed 252 calories a day from beverages containing added sugar, the second-highest amount.

The American Heart Association recommends getting no more than 450 calories a week from sugar-sweetened beverages, or less than three cans of soda. Sugary drinks have been linked to weight gain, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Many schools have stopped selling soda or artificial juices.

"This is one area that people can look to if they are trying to limit their consumption of added sugars," study author Cynthia Ogden said in an interview.

The survey also found that non-Hispanic black children and adolescents obtained 8.5 percent of their daily calories from sugar-sweetened drinks, higher than the 7.7 percent among non-Hispanic white children and teens and 7.4 percent for Mexican-American youths.

Sugar drinks were defined as sodas, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports and sweetened bottled waters.

For adults 20 and over, the percentage of daily calories obtained from sugar drinks rose to 8.6 percent for non-Hispanic blacks and 8.2 for Mexican-Americans but declined to 5.3 percent for non-Hispanic whites.

The study also found that lower-income children and adults consumed more daily calories from sugar-added drinks than those with higher incomes.

The CDC report released Wednesday is said to be the first to offer national statistics for adults and kids. Past studies have focused on certain groups, particularly school kids.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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