WEDNESDAY, Sept. 22, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Soft drinks are surging ahead of milk as a source of calories for many Americans, says a University of North Carolina study.
The study found that between 1977 and 2001 the amount of energy that Americans get from soft drinks has tripled from 50 to 144 calories a day, while energy intake from milk declined from 143 calories to 99 calories a day.
Over that same period of time, the intake of energy from fruit drinks has increased from 20 calories to 45 calories.
The greatest reduction in milk consumption -- from 13.2 percent of total energy in 1977 to 8.3 percent of total energy in 2001 -- was among those aged 2 to 18. Over that same time, this group doubled their consumption of soft drinks and fruit drink.
Soft drink consumption was highest among those aged 19 to 39. People over 60 drank three times as much soft drink in 2001 as people over 60 did in 1977.
These patterns may be a factor in the growing rates of obesity in the United States, the researchers noted.
"Overall, energy intake from sweetened beverages increased 135 percent and was reduced by 38 percent from milk," the study authors said in a prepared statement. "This trend was mainly driven by the large increase in soft drinks consumed by children and younger adults."
The study appears in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The Nemours Foundation has more about soft drinks and children.