Calculating the benefits of water over sweetened soda

What’s the effect of replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with alternatives in children and adolescents?

Researchers from Boston and New York calculated the caloric effect.

First, the details.

  • 3098 children and teens reported what they ate and drank on 2 different days.
  • The impact of substituting water for sugar-sweetened beverages on their total energy intake was calculated.

And, the results.

  • Each additional 8 oz serving of sugar-sweetened beverages corresponded to a significant increase of 106 kcal/day.
  • Substituting sugar-sweetened beverages with water was associated with a significant decrease in total energy intake.
    • Each 1% of beverage replacement with water was associated with 6.6-kcal lower total energy intake
  • The kids didn’t consumer more food or other beverages to make up for the lost calories from the sweetened drinks.
  • Replacing all sugar-sweetened beverages with water was calculated to result in an average reduction of 235 kcal/day.

The bottom line?
Replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with water is associated with reductions in total calories, concluded the authors.

Almost 90% of US children and adolescents consume sugar-sweetened beverages each day — including soda, fruit drinks, punches, sports drinks and sweetened tea — and the calories contained in these drinks can represent more than 10% of their total daily intake.

In this study, it didn’t appear that the kids increased their consumption of other foods and beverages to compensate for drinking fewer sugar-sweetened beverages, so every can of soda or fruit drink that was replaced by water resulted in a net reduction in calories.

In case you don’t want to drink just water, here are some options to meet your daily water needs.

4/11/09 18:32 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.