NUTRITION
December 18, 2007

Sweet Drinks, Stealthy Calories

Before you reach for a soda, juice, energy drink or a creamy designer latte to pick yourself up today, consider this finding from a new study.

Before you reach for a soda, juice, energy drink or a creamy designer latte to pick yourself up today, consider this finding from a new study: The number of calories adults get from beverages has nearly doubled in the past 37 years.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina looked at trends and patterns in beverage consumption among 46,576 American adults aged 19 and older between 1965 and 2002. They found that total daily intake of calories from beverages increased by 222 calories, or 94 percent.

"Regardless of beverage type — water, sodas, milk, orange juice or beer — those extra calories are not compensated for by a reduction in food intake."

"This has considerable implications for numerous health outcomes, including obesity and diabetes," said Barry M. Popkin, Ph.D., professor of nutrition at UNC and co−author of the study, which was published in the November issue of Obesity Research.

And if you thought that drink would fill you up so you'd eat less, think again. According to Popkin, "Regardless of beverage type — water, sodas, milk, orange juice or beer — those extra calories are not compensated for by a reduction in food intake."

"The biggest difference we observed was that...fruit and vegetable juices and diet beverages were not important in 1977 patterns, but were in 2002." said researcher Kiyah J. Duffey, a doctoral candidate in nutrition who helped analyze the national data.

Most disturbing were the overall trends in total calories from beverages. In 1965, beverages accounted for just 12 percent of daily energy intake. That number shot up to 21 percent by 2002.

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