There are serious health risks — including weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease — associated with soda and sugary drink consumption. Partially as a result, the American soft-drink industry has reported declining sales for the last 11 straight years. Still, regular soda consumption is more common in certain parts of the country, and the health of area residents is suffering.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in 23 states. Daily soda consumption rates range from as few as 18.0% of adults in Vermont to 47.5% of adults in Mississippi. In seven states, more than 40% of adults drink sugar-sweetened beverages daily.
People who regularly consume soda and other sugary drinks are at greater risk of several negative health conditions, including diabetes. According to a study published by the Harvard School of Public Health, people who consume at least one can of soda a day have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who rarely drink soda. Not surprisingly, each of the seven states drinking the most soda has a higher diabetes rate than the 9.3% national diabetes rate among adults.
Sugary drink consumption can also lead to obesity. In each of the 12 states where residents drink the most soda, the adult obesity rate exceeds the 27.0% national rate. In Mississippi, where close to half of all adults consume sugary drinks regularly, the most of any state, the adult obesity rate is also the highest of all states — at more than 35%.
Across all 23 states reviewed, individuals with lower educational attainments are more likely to consume soda on a daily basis. Higher educational levels can help lead to higher nutritional literacy and healthier choices and diets. Roughly 42% of adults with less than a high school education drink soda on a daily basis. In stark contrast, only 15.5% of adults who have graduated college report consuming sugar-sweetened beverages daily. All of the seven states drinking the most soda have a lower college attainment rate than the 30.1% national average.
In addition to lower educational attainment, incomes tend to be lower in the states where residents drink the most soda. The typical household income in each of the states on this list is at least $6,000 less than the $53,657 typical American household annual income. Quality, nutritious food may be prohibitively expensive for many families and individuals on the low end of the income spectrum. Sugary drinks are inexpensive, and often accompany cheap fast food meal options.
To identify the states with the highest sugary drink consumption, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the percentage of adults in each of the 23 states who consumed sugar-sweetened beverages at least once daily in 2012 from the CDC’s weekly “Prevalence of Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Intake Among Adults — 23 States and the District of Columbia, 2013” report published February 26, 2016. Self-reported obesity rates also came from the CDC. Consumption data are self-reported. The median household income in each state comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey.
These are the states drinking the most soda.