Previous research on sugar-sweetened beverage trends has focused on self-reported consumption from surveys. Few studies used objective store sales or explored differences by area-level demographics and store type.
The average volume of beverages sold per store per 3-digit zoning improvement plan code from 2006 to 2015 was calculated using national Nielsen Retail Scanner point-of-sale data from 24,240 stores. A multilevel regression model analyzed annual trends, with random intercepts for state and separate models for beverage type (regular soda, no/low-calorie soda, other sugary drinks, 100% fruit juice, bottled water). Differences by store type (convenience, supermarkets, drug stores, mass merchandisers) and area-level demographics (categorized as tertiles) were examined. Data were analyzed in 2019.
The model-based estimates indicated that sales of regular soda (−11.8%), no/low-calorie soda (−19.8%), and 100% fruit juice (−31.9%) decreased over time, whereas sales of bottled water (+34.4%) increased and sales of other sugary drinks remained stable (+2.4%). Decreases in sugar-sweetened beverage sales were largely concentrated in supermarkets and larger in areas with high income and education levels and a high percentage of black and Hispanic people. There were also relatively larger increases in bottled water sales in states located in the South and Midwest.
The finding that sales of sugar-sweetened beverages decreased over time, whereas sales of bottled water increased is encouraging because sugar-sweetened beverage consumption is linked to obesity and other chronic conditions. This study provides a novel, rigorous assessment of U.S. beverage sales trends and differences by community and store characteristics.
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