Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005 to 2008, researchers found that a quarter of consume at least 200 calories a day of sugary drinks -- more than the equivalent of a 12-ounce can of cola.
Males ages 12 to 19 guzzle the most sugary drinks, about 273 calories' worth per day on average. And 70% of boys ages 2 to 19 consume sugary drinks on any given day. Older women drink the least, about 42 calories a day of the stuff. Overall, teens and young adults drink more than other age groups.
People who are in higher income brackets drink fewer sugary drinks than those in lower income brackets. Mexican Americans and blacks drink more sugared beverages than whites.
The study also reported that 48% of calories from sugary drinks are consumed away from home, and most of those are purchased at stores, followed by restaurants (including fast food places).
Included in the study were sugar-sweetened sodas, energy drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks and sweetened bottled waters. Diet sodas, 100% fruit juice, sweetened teas and flavored milks were not among the targeted beverages.
Sugary beverages have been implicated as contributors to childhood obesity. A June CDC report found that almost 63% of high school students surveyed said they drank sweetened beverages daily.
On the heels of the study, the Center for the Science in the Public Interest announced it's taking part in the "Life's Sweeter With Fewer Sugar Drinks" campaign, whose mission is to get people to drink fewer sugary beverages. The campaign's goal is to have people reduce their consumption of sugary drinks to about three cans a week by 2020.
"Life's Sweeter's goal is to broaden the battle against sugary drinks from health experts to civic organizations, youth groups, civil rights groups, and others," said CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson in a news release. "The enormous health and economic benefits that would result from drinking less 'liquid candy' will be supported by a broad cross-section of America. Not since the anti-tobacco campaigns has there been a product so worthy of a national health campaign."