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Losing Weight By Cutting Sugary Drinks

April 8, 2009

Losing weight could be as easy as cutting sugary drinks from your diet according to new research.

“Consumption of liquid calories from beverages has increased in parallel with the obesity epidemic in the US population,” wrote Dr. Benjamin Caballero of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and colleagues.

The findings are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“Our study supports policy recommendations and public health efforts to reduce intakes of liquid calories, particularly from sugar-sweetened beverages, in the general population,” they conclude.

The researchers studied how beverage consumption affected the weight of 810 adults who participated in a behavior intervention study over the span of 18 months.

The team categorized beverages into seven categories based on calorie content and nutritional composition. They included sugar-sweetened beverages (regular soft drinks, fruit drinks, fruit punch, or high-calorie beverages sweetened with sugar); diet drinks (diet soda and other “diet” drinks sweetened with artificial sweeteners); milk (whole milk, 2 percent reduced-fat milk, 1 percent low-fat milk, and skim milk); 100 percent juice (100 percent fruit and vegetable juice); coffee and tea with sugar; coffee and tea without sugar; and alcoholic beverages.

Among the study participants, sugar-sweetened beverages were the leading source of liquid calories.

Researchers discovered that overall, cutting back on liquid calories was associated with a weight loss of 0.6 pounds (0.25 kg) at 6 months and 0.5 pounds (0.24 kg) at 18 months.

“The weight-loss effect of a reduction in liquid calorie intake was stronger than that of a reduction in solid food intake,” Caballero and colleagues report.

The results “support recommendations to limit liquid calorie intake among adults and to reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption as a means to accomplish weight loss or avoid excess weight gain,” they conclude.

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