In 2009-10, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found the percentage consuming diet drinks was similar for females and males at all ages except among adolescents ages 12-19. The percentage of those consuming diet drinks increased with age for both males and females, the survey showed.
The report, by Tala H.I. Fakhouri, Dr. Brian K. Kit and Cynthia L. Ogden of the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said diet drink consumption differed by race and ethnicity.
More than 15 percent of non-Hispanic white children and adolescents consumed diet drinks, but only 6.8 percent of non-Hispanic black and 7.5 percent of Hispanic children and adolescents consumed any diet drink on a given day during the period.
Similarly, 27.9 percent of non-Hispanic white adults consumed any diet drink on a given day compared with 10.1 percent of non-Hispanic black and 14.1 percent of Hispanic adults.
From 1999-2000 through 2009-10, the percentage of Americans consuming diet drinks increased from 17.8 percent to 21.2 percent for females, and from 13.9 percent to 19 percent for males.
"Calories from soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages are declining," the American Beverage Association said in a statement. "Between 1999 and 2010, full-calorie soda sales are down 12.5 percent. And since 1998, the average calories per serving from beverages are down 23 percent."
An association spokesman said consumers "are taking advantage of the myriad choices available in the marketplace -- of which many are no- and low-calorie beverages.
"In fact, about 45 percent of all beverages purchased today are zero calorie," the spokesman said.
"Food is the No. 1 source of added sugars, not sugar-sweetened beverages."