CHAMPAIGN, Ill., March 7 (UPI) -- Increasing water intake may help people exert better control over how much and what they eat, according to a recent study.
Plain water -- from the tap or a bottle -- was shown to decrease people's caloric intake because of reductions of saturated fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol in their diet, researchers at the University of Illinois found in a study of Americans' dietary habits.
The idea is not unfounded, as a study released in January showed that when some schools in New York City added water dispensers to lunch lines they saw reductions in BMI and risk for obesity among students.
For the new study, published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, researchers analyzed data from four waves of the National Health and Examination Study between 2005 and 2012 on 18,311 adults over age 18.
Study participants were asked what they'd consumed during two days, separated by three to 10 days, with researchers calculating how much plain water they drank as a percentage of daily dietary water intake from food and beverages combined.
Overall, participants drank 4.2 cups of water per day, representing 30 percent of total daily dietary water intake. Their average intake of calories was 2,157, including 125 calories from sugar-sweetened beverages and 432 calories from junk food.
The researchers found a 1 percent increase in proportion of daily water intake was associated with an 8.58-calorie decrease, showing reductions in fewer sugar-sweetened beverages, junk food, total fat, saturated fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol.
"The impact of plain water intake on diet was similar across race/ethnicity, education and income levels and body weight status," Dr. Ruopeng An, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, said in a press release. "This finding indicates that it might be sufficient to design and deliver universal nutrition interventions and education campaigns that promote plain water consumption in replacement of beverages with calories in diverse population subgroups without profound concerns about message and strategy customization."