So long, soda: Water is top US beverage

New figures show H2O has replaced carbonated drinks as the favored national thirst quencher.

By Bruce Kennedy Mar 13, 2013 7:26AM

Image: Man drinking bottled water while driving ( PhotoAlto/SuperStock/SuperStock)The decades-long and seemingly unquenchable passion Americans once had for sugary, carbonated drinks is losing its fizz. More consumers are returning to a bland but readily available and transparent standby: water.

The Associated Press, quoting data from Beverage Digest, reports water has surpassed soda as the national drink of choice.

Americans now consume an average of 44 gallons of soda a year -- down 17% from the 1998 peak -- while the average amount of water consumed annually jumped 38% to about 58 gallons.

Two factors are apparently at play with these new figures.

First is soda's part in the obesity epidemic. Harvard University School of Public Health notes a typical 20-ounce soda contains up to 240 calories -- with 15 to 18 teaspoons worth of sugar. And those are empty calories to boot, since drinking a soda doesn't create the feeling of fullness that solid food gives. Similar dire warnings about the dangers of "liquid candy” have apparently gotten through to a lot of American consumers.

At the same time, beverage companies have been successfully marketing and packaging bottled water for consumers looking for an alternative. The AP reports the average individual's consumption of bottled water in the U.S. -- especially in smaller, easily portable bottles -- has doubled since 1998 to about 21 gallons per year. And industry data show revenue for the U.S. bottled-water market in 2010 was around $10.6 billion, rising 0.2% over the previous year.

Of course, bottled water has also come under criticism as a new source of trash and pollution. And some towns and universities are looking to enforce bans on bottles or at least those under one liter.

And lest we forget, you can still get all the safe drinking water you want at home for a lot less than it costs to buy it in soda-like containers.

"Good old marketing has convinced people that they should spend a lot of money on bottled water," Salome Freud, chief of New York City's distribution water quality operations, told AP.

More on moneyNOW

Mar 13, 2013 10:03AM

I don't think people buy bottled water because they are driven by fashion statements or trends for the most part.  They buy it because it is convenient, safe, and consistent.  It's the same every time, wherever you go throughout the country.  The same cannot be said for tap water even within the same city.  Sure, the high end bottled waters might benefit from being trendy or fashionable, but the majority of the bottled water market is populated by commoditized brands such as Nestle, Aquafina, or Dasani.  These are not fashion statements, they are convenience items. 


Furthermore, who says bottles are unrecyclable?  And why are water bottles the only packaging under fire in this country?  Americans still only drink 21 gallons of bottled water per year, that is less than half of the amount of soda they drink.  That means that is less than half the amount of waste that is generated. 


If we as consumers take responsibility to recycle any packaging that we consume, then this problem would not be nearly as newsworthy as it has become.

Mar 13, 2013 8:57AM

One of the things that is interesting is that the bottled water has been proven time and again to be no more healthful than tap water and yet people continue to pay money for this plastic container of water  which are filling the environment with so much unrecyclable goods.


People are driven by fashoin statements or trends whether or not those statements are even true. We have an interesting culture created by lemmings.

Mar 13, 2013 9:28PM

You're right Royal, millions have recycle programs, 10s of millions don't or won't..


And it is like that, wherever I have traveled..


Walk along an Intra-State or State hi-way and then travel some of the County or Backroads.


Remember the Indian with the tears in his eyes....He's still crying.


Mar 13, 2013 10:51PM

I've gotta go, Royal....Work to do.


Mar 13, 2013 10:49PM

No, actually I was not aware of that; But that makes sense, because TUMS and Rolaids have a lot of Chalk or Dirt in them...And they would help..


I used to have bad heart burn......After a Quad by-pass many years ago..It just went away..


I have known many other Heart patients, same type of thing happened afterwards..

I asked Cardio staff about this years ago and they said, they were aware of this after symptom..


I think it comes from stomach gas pressure on arteries and veins near Heart.."My theory."

Bloated tummy, pressures everything in area...If arteries are blocked or partially blocked it puts pain on heart muscle from the arteries being squeezed more...Heart works harder.

Mar 13, 2013 9:35PM


Did you know people who get heartburn because they need minerals. The minerals puts the PH balance back in their system and cures heartburn. They also put them in water now to improve taste.

Mar 13, 2013 9:21PM

Occassionally I will drink bottled water....If I have a bottle, I refill it with our water for the Golf course or trips....Some of our kids do too..


We have spring fed type wells, from a deep aquifer...High in minerals...No pollution.

Mar 13, 2013 9:08PM

Davey...The reason water and water bottles come underfire, is they HAVE NO DEPOSIT...


They are littering our highways and filling up our Landfills with PLASTIC...


Same with other drinks like tea or others...Bottles are everywhere...


Pop or Soda cans, get recycled and crushed by the billions..They are aluminum...And will degrade long before plastic, even starts thinking about it...

Mar 13, 2013 9:07PM
I drink bottle water...because tap water has fluoride in it, which destroys your thyroid.
Mar 13, 2013 9:02PM
It's called soda, pop, fizz or cola....Depending where you are in the U.S.
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