U.S. sales may have dropped for the 10th straight year in 2014, but some nutrition experts say that doesn't mean Americans are making healthier beverage choices.

Industry analysts in a report last week said the overall volume of soda sales dropped by 0.9 percent. Since peaking in 2004, soda sales have dropped by 1.4 billion cases.

However, Alison Karpyn, an associate professor of Behavioral Health and Nutrition at the University of Delaware, said many Americans are choosing sweetened teas and lemonades instead of soda, even though there is still a significant amount of sugar in those drinks.

"There might be a slight difference in calories, but at the end of the day you're still putting a lot of tablespoons of sugar into a liquid that you're consuming," she said.

High sugar intake can contribute to poor nutrition, lead to weight gain and tooth decay. Researchers have also foundthat even drinking one sugar-sweetened soft drink a day can increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 22 percent.

Everyone, especially children, should drink more water and milk rather than sweetened drinks, Karpyn said.

Increased water consumption has been a focus of First Lady Michelle Obama's "Drink Up" campaign, a subset of the Partnership for a Healthier America.

She hopes the downward trend in soda sales leads to more people recognizing the need for healthier beverage choices.

"I hope...that it will kickstart more conversations at homes and with families to bring people back to these simple things of water and milk that we might have forgotten about in the past decades," she said.


You can contact Tom Lehman at tlehman@wdel.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook