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Why the Next Generation Might End Coca-Cola's Reign

By Tiffany Lin ; Updated June 13, 2017

Soda pop and pop culture have always seemed to go hand in hand, but those days may just be over.

For decades, Americans have reached for sugar-laden soda as their beverage of choice. From the 1970s to the late 1990s, Americans were drinking more soft drinks than water per capita, with consumption peaking in the late ’90s, according to Beverage Digest.

But the tide is shifting: A survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that soda consumption among young Americans has declined by almost a third in the past two years.

Public Awareness

Soda intake has been linked to weight gain, obesity, tooth decay, diabetes, heart disease and other health issues, spurring public health experts and politicians to lead campaigns in an attempt to raise awareness about the negative effects of soda.

In 2012, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a citywide ban on all large-sized sugared beverages. While the ban was ultimately rejected by Final Court, it ignited a global debate over soda consumption, according to The New York Times. Schools and hospitals across the U.S. began banning soda and other sugary drinks from cafeterias and vending machines.

Effect on Teens

Public campaigns like Bloomberg’s soda ban have succeeded in convincing teens to cut down on soft drinks. According to the CDC survey, in 2015:

  • 20 percent of students reported drinking a sugar-sweetened beverage one or more times per day during the previous week, down from 27 percent in 2013 and 34 percent in 2007.
  • 26 percent of teens said they had not consumed any sugary soda at all in the previous seven days, up from 22 percent in 2013 and about 19 percent in 2007.

What Teens Are Drinking Now

So what are young Americans drinking these days in lieu of soda? Water. “A recent industry report from the Beverage Marketing Corp. revealed that bottled water consumption grew 120 percent in 15 years, between 2000 and 2015. At the same time, soft drink consumption fell by 16 percent,” according to HealthDay.

Water Benefits

Besides aiding the body with digestion, blood circulation and the elimination of toxins, water is jam-packed with other healthful benefits. Drinking between the recommended six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day can boost heart health, promote weight loss and keep the skin hydrated.

And with the public’s renewed focus on health, it’s no wonder that the next generation has been convinced to swap soda for water. Plus, drinking water doesn't have to be boring -- there are plenty of ways to make your water taste better.

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