Soda and other sweetened drinks are the source of about 6 percent of the calories adults consume, on average. Alcoholic beverages account for about 5 percent.
Study co-author Cynthia Ogden calls the data on alcohol "something new."
Researchers say the findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deserve attention because, like soda, alcohol contains few nutrients but plenty of calories.
For reference, a 12-ounce can of regular Coca-Cola has 140 calories, slightly less than a same-sized can of regular Bud. A 5-ounce glass of wine is around 100 calories.
In terms of alcohol preference, the study finds men drink mostly beer while there's no clear favorite for women.