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Soda Sales Down to Lowest Level since 1996 despite Increase in Obesity Rate

Update Date: Mar 25, 2013 08:19 PM EDT

With more than one-third of obese adults in the United States, there appears to be some good news in the obesity battle. American consumption of soda has been on the decline since 2005, and fell to its lowest level last year since 1996.

Total sales volume fell 1.2 percent in 2012 to 9.17 billion cases, according to Beverage Digest. That compares with declines of 1 percent in 2011 and 0.5 percent in 2010. More Americans are drinking water and tea. However, the report notes that there has been an increase in energy drink consumption Monster, up 19.1 percent; Red Bull, up 17 percent and Rockstar, up 8 percent.

The decline in sugary drink consumption comes on the heels of increased scrutiny of its connection to obesity, diabetes and other related health issues. Recently, the Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg tried to ban the sale and consumption of sugary drinks that are larger than 16-ounces. The proposal was declined by a judge earlier in March.

Despite the decline, carbonated soft drinks still make up the biggest category of nonalcoholic beverages.

John Sicher, editor and publisher of trade publication Beverage Digest, said that sales of sodas saw their third consecutive year of decline in 2012.

"Throughout most of the 1990s, the (carbonated soft drink) category grew volume in the plus-3 percent range annually, but then its performance began to slow in 1999," Sicher said in notes on his analysis. "It has been in decline since 2005."

Overall Coca-Cola remained the top brand in carbonated drinks - Coke and Diet Coke retained the Nos. 1 and 2 spots - as well as all combined categories. Pepsi-Cola was No. 3 with an 8.9 percent market share while Dr Pepper was the fifth largest seller, with a 6.5 percent market share.

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