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  • Writer's pictureDr. Pearl E. Whites

What Drinks Have the Most Sugar?

Updated: Jan 17

The common belief is sugar causes cavities. In theory that is correct. An acidic environment is the true factor that induces cavities to grow and worsen, but sugar is a catalyst for cavities. The more frequently sugar coats teeth the more susceptible to cavities they are.

So what drinks contain the most sugar? Do sodas have the most sugar than any drink? What beverages are the best to drink?

In 1981 the average American consumed 4 tsp/sugar a day. Today the average man, woman, AND child consumes 17 tsp of sugar a day! The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at most 9 tsp of sugar per day for men and 6 tsp for women and children.

To compare apples-to-apples, the quantity of sugar in each drink was calculated as if each beverage were distributed the size of a regular soda can--12oz. Sugar is listed as how many sugar cubes (1tsp) are in each beverage.



9+ tsp Sugar Exceeds AHA Guidelines for Daily Sugar Consumption

6.1-9 tsp Sugar AHA Guideline for Men (Max 9 tsp/day)

0-6 tsp Sugar AHA Guideline for Women and Children (Max 6 tsp/day)



Specialty drinks are beverages that are made to order. This is usually coffee, tea, smoothies, etc. We chose popular stores that are often frequented for their drinks. Below are the three MOST sugary drinks on the market that we could find based on the 12 oz scale.



TSP Coffee



TSP Energy Drink

TSP Energy Drink



TSP Juice

7.6 Tang

Tsp Juice



Tsp Milk



Tsp Soda

9.8 Pepsi

Tsp Soda

**Soda is considered anything carbonated, sparking, or a seltzer



Tsp Sports Drink



Tsp Tea



**Assume all non-flavored or non-carbonated water has zero sugar

Tsp Water



  • Any drink labeled "Lite" or "Zero" has no sugar in the beverages. "Diet" has a miniscule amount of 1/2 tsp or less in a 12oz drink.

  • Soda is not the most sugary drink! Many juices are just as acidic AND sugary as soda.

  • Every sugary soda measured except for Hawaiian Punch and Izzy's has more than 6 tsps of sugar, which exceeds the maximum daily sugar amount for women and children.

  • Specialty drinks are DEFINITELY more sugary than most store-bought bottled drinks.

  • All drinks if flavored, carbonated, or even tailored for "diet" are acidic--usually cavity inducing--except water, some black tea, or regular milk (future article pending on acid beverages).



Sugar has a neutral pH but when consumed it creates lactic acid and this aggressive acidity is a catalyst to getting cavities. When the mouth's pH falls below 5.5 pH, the anaerobic bacteria that cause cavities start eroding teeth and it can take 30 minutes to 2 hours before your mouth can start regenerating to fight against cavities. If you are constantly eating or sipping on drinks then your teeth do not have enough time to protect themselves from cavity-causing bacteria regardless if you brush your teeth twice a day. Drink wisely my friends.

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