How Much Sugar is in Your Drink?

What are Sugar Sweetened Beverages?

Sugar sweetened beverages are drinks sweetened with sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, or other caloric sweeteners. They are a source of nutrition-less or “empty” calories and are suspected of greatly contributing to the current obesity epidemic. Additionally, some popular sweetened beverages contain caffeine that can have a negative impact on children’s and adults’ health.

Sugar Content in Popular Beverages

Don’t be fooled by the grams of sugar and calories listed on the standard beverage bottle label, which is for just one serving. Often times, in a 20 oz. bottle there are 2.5 servings. However, many children and adults will drink the entire bottle rather than sticking with just one serving from the bottle. So, in reality they are consuming 2.5 times the amount of sugar and calories listed.

The beverage examples listed below are container sizes of sugar sweetened beverages commonly purchased at convenience stores and vending machines, which is the same as the amount served at many restaurants.

Sugar Sweetened Beverage Common Size
(fluid ounce)
Sugar (grams) Total Teaspoons 
Regular Cola 20 oz. bottle 65 16 240
Citrus Soda 20 oz. bottle 77 19 290
Sweetened Iced Tea 20 oz. can 58 15 219
Sports Drinks 20 oz. bottle 35 9 130
Vitamin Waters 20 oz. bottle 33 8 125
Sweetened Lemonade 20 oz. bottle 67 17 260

Whenever possible, choose healthful beverage alternatives for yourself and children that are low in sugar, calories, and caffeine. Some alternatives might include water with sliced fruit such as oranges, sparkling water, diluted 100% juice, unsweetened ice tea, or low-fat milk.

Did You Know?

When drinking a standard 20 ounce bottle of cola, it is the equivalent of eating 16 sugar cubes or 16 teaspoons of sugar!

A child who drinks just a can of regular soda a day could add an extra 15 pounds in a year.