The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are out with a new study finding that alcoholic beverages contribute to five percent of U.S. adults’ caloric intakes — just shy of the six percent of total calories that Americans consume from sodas and other sugar-infused drinks.
The study’s findings highlight the difficulty of solving America’s obesity epidemic — a public health crisis that threatens to lower Americans’ lifespans and further exacerbate the skyrocketing cost of health care. As NPR reports, the study concludes that men take in significantly more alcohol calories than women, and that consumption is spread evenly across racial lines:
—On any given day, about one-third of men and one-fifth of women consumed calories from beer, wine or liquor.
—Averaged out to all adults, the average guy drinks 150 calories from alcohol each day, or the equivalent of a can of Budweiser.
—The average woman drinks about 50 calories, or roughly half a glass of wine.
—Men drink mostly beer. For women, there was no clear favorite among alcoholic beverages.
—There was no racial or ethnic difference in average calories consumed from alcoholic beverages. But there was an age difference, with younger adults putting more of it away.
For reference, a 12-ounce can of regular Coca-Cola has 140 calories, slightly less than a same-sized can of regular Bud. A 5-ounce glass of wine is around 100 calories.
In the wake of multiple studies showing that sugary drinks are a huge contributor to American obesity, New York City instituted a ban on large-sized sodas. But before lawmakers start limiting beers to shot glass serving sizes, it’s important to note that alcohol consumption is a far more manageable contributor to weight gain than sugary drinks are. As public health advocate Margo Wootan points out, sodas and sweetened beverages are the biggest source of calories in American children’s diets, making sodas not only the biggest but also the earliest contributors to the U.S. obesity crisis.