Swapping one sugary drink per day for water has big health benefit, study says

Reducing the calories from added sugar, especially those in soda and energy drinks, can help prevent obesity, cardiovascular disease and other adverse health conditions.
By Stephen Feller  |  Aug. 15, 2016 at 11:33 AM
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BLACKSBURG, Va., Aug. 15 (UPI) -- A new study at Virginia Tech University suggests swapping one sugary drink per day for water has a huge benefit to overall health.

Replacing one sugary drink per day, including "diet" beverages, with water can reduces caloric intake and the risk of obesity and other health conditions, according to a new study published in the journal Nutrients.

The extra calories of heavily sweetened beverages such as soda, energy drinks, some juices and even sweetened coffee increases the risk of weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Higher consumption of sweetened beverages has also been linked to less healthy diets overall. That is, the more sugary beverages a person drinks each day, the more likely they are to eat unhealthy levels of red and processed meats, refined grains, sweets and starches, while lower calorie drinks are linked to diets higher in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and poultry.

For the study, researchers analyzed health data on 19,718 adults collected as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2007 and 2012, finding a shift in drinking patterns has a big effect on health.

The effects of replacing a single 8-ounce sugar-sweetened drink with an 8-ounce serving of water is enough to achieve the shift toward better health, the researchers report.

"We found that among U.S. adults who consume one serving of sugar-sweetened beverages per day, replacing that drink with water lowered the percent of calories coming from drinks from 17 to 11 percent," Kiyah Duffey, an adjunct faculty member at Virginia Tech University, said in a press release. "Even those who consumed more sugary drinks per day could still benefit from water replacement, dropping the amount of calories coming from beverages to less than 25 percent of their daily caloric intake."

Although the study was funded by the Drinking Water Research Foundation, which supports research for the drinking water industry, the researcher's evaluations of potential health benefits of switching to water echo suggestions of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to get no more than 10 percent of daily calories from added sugar.

"Regardless of how many servings of sugar-sweetened beverages you consume, replacing even just one serving can be of benefit," Duffey said.

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