A study funded by the Drinking Water Research Foundation (DWRF) and published in the journal Nutrients has suggested that substituting some sugary drinks for water could help to trim 3.9 billion calories from US adults’ diets and lift 1.6 million out of obesity.
The research used national nutrition surveillance data to report beverage intake patterns for adults and predict the calorie savings, weight loss benefits and other potential health benefits associated with drinking a glass of water in place of a soda, energy drink or other sweetened beverage.
“Swapping water [in place of] eight-ounces of sweetened beverage every day could save people roughly 100 calories,” said the study’s co-author, Kiyah Duffey. “If those calories are not replaced by other foods or beverages, that is a meaningful reduction in daily energy intake.”
The results revealed that 18% of calories in adults’ diets come from beverages – above the current public health recommendation of 15% of total energy intake.
Bringing the number of calories consumed from beverages in line with that recommendation would, among the 250 million adults in the US, trim 3.9 billion calories from consumers’ diets alone.
“In addition to the potential direct weight loss benefits, individuals may also experience improvements in blood sugar and cholesterol levels,” suggested Dr Duffey. “We also know that most adults are at least mildly dehydrated and need to consume more calorie-free beverages like water, so there are numerous reasons to make the swap.”
The calls add to previous research, published earlier this month, that showed American consumers have already cut up to 68 trillion calories from their diets during the past 15 years as a result of an increase in consumption of bottled water over other types of non-alcoholic beverages.
“Bottled water’s ascent has been driven in large part by America’s move to healthier beverage choices, which has effectively resulted in calorie savings for all Americans,” said Beverage Marketing Corporation chairman and chief executive officer Michael Bellas.
Duffey, and co-author Jennifer Poti, used dietary and health data from more than 19,000 adults from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys to analyse beverage intake patterns, and compared participants’ beverage choices to current public health recommendations and associations with health parameters. The researchers also assigned a Healthy Beverage Index (HBI) score from 0–100 for all participants.
The HBI is a ten-item index that scores beverage patterns based on public health recommendations such as drinking at least 20% of fluids as water, limiting sugar-sweetened beverages, and keeping overall calories from beverages low. Higher HBI scores are associated with beverage patterns that are more consistent with the guidelines and associated with better health, including lower blood pressure, better cholesterol and healthier blood sugar levels.
“While Americans may be drinking less soda, our data show that calories from beverages are still exceeding public health recommendations, and often by a wide margin,” commented Dr Duffey.
In addition, consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages also exceeded HBI ideals among a majority of the study’s participants.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2021
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