PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new study finds that sugary drinks are getting sweeter. Beverages now make up one-third of restaurant menus and, according to new research, those drinks are not getting healthier.
This study took a closer look at the evolution of 63 U.S. chain restaurant menus and found the total number of drink offerings increased by 155%, with 82% of that driven by sweetened beverages.
These sugary drinks are becoming more plentiful at large restaurant chains and some are getting even sweeter, according to the new research.
Among newly introduced sugary beverages, the number of calories per drink increased by about 50 and the average amount of sugar per drink reached a whopping 63 grams.
“This study shows us that the sweetened options and the diverse choices available on the menu has really increased, which I think is surprising, in light of the obesity epidemic and all the research that’s coming out now how much sugar impacts our body,” registered dietitian Ariana Cucuzza says.
Too much sugar has been linked to weight gain, blood sugar problems and an increased risk of heart disease.
Among the drinks evaluated in the study are newly introduced sweetened teas. In 2016, they contained on average about 140 calories per drink with 25 grams of sugar, but in 2016, calories jumped to 300 with 56 grams of sugar per drink.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to 25 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men.
“You can make healthier options by picking things that are unsweetened, such as unsweetened ice tea, water-flavored seltzer waters are really popular now. They’re usually available at restaurants as well,” Cucuzza said.
The most recent numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows 63% of children and 49% of adults drink a sugar-sweetened beverage daily.
Another study found that just having a small glass of a sugary drink per day is linked to an 18% increased risk for developing cancer.