CAM PoliticsDiet-NutritionObesity

Contribution of liquid calories to weight control

 Increased drinking of liquid calories from beverages has paralleled the obesity epidemic in the US.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in Baltimore, Maryland examined how changes in beverage consumption affect weight change in adults.

First, the details.

  • Dietary habits of 810 adults were monitored for 18 months.
  • Weight, height, and 24-hour dietary recall were recorded at the start of the study, and 6 and 18 months later.
  • Beverages were grouped according to calorie content and nutritional composition.
    • Sugar-sweetened beverages: regular soft drinks, fruit drinks, fruit punch, or high-calorie sugar sweetened beverages
    • Diet drinks: diet soda and “diet” drinks with artificial sweeteners
    • Milk: whole, 2%, 1%, and skim milk
    • 100% juice and vegetable juice
    • Coffee and tea with and without sugar
    • Alcoholic beverages

And, the results.

  • liquid calories accounted for 19% of total energy intake.
  • After adjusting for confounding factors, reducing liquid calorie intake by 100 kcal/day was associated with significant weight loss of 0.25 kg (0.6 lbs) at 18 months.
  • Taking in fewer liquid calories had a stronger effect on weight loss than reducing solid calorie intake.
  • Only sugar-sweetened beverages were significantly associated with weight change.
  • Reducing their intake by 1 serving/day was associated with a significant weight loss of 0.49 kg (1.1 lbs) at 6 months and 0.65 kg (1.4 lbs) at 18 months.
  • Diet drinks and alcohol had no significant effect on weight changes.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Our study supports policy recommendations and public health efforts to reduce intakes of liquid calories, particularly from sugar-sweetened beverages, in the general population.”

In New York, our governor has proposed the “soda tax,” which would place an 18% tax on soda and other sugary drinks containing less than 70% fruit juice. Although it will probably not pass this year, you can bet this study will be quoted in the future.

4/4/09 12:23 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.