Every day in the United States, half of all people — kids, teens and adults alike — consume sugary drinks, adding hundreds of empty calories into their diets. Knowing this, researchers from the College of Agriculture and Life Science wanted to find out if there were significant benefits to cutting one sugary drink per day from a person’s diet since the calories and added sugar from sodas, energy drinks, and dessert-like coffee can increase the risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

For their study, published in the journal Nutrients, researchers examined data that was collected between 2007 and 2012 through national health surveys. Of the nearly 20,000 American adults who were 19 years and older, researchers found that replacing one 8-ounce sugar-sweetened drink with an 8-ounce serving of water was estimated to significantly reduce calories, along with a risk of obesity.

The World Health Organization recommends children and adults should limit their added sugar intake to less than 10 percent of their total calories, Americans overdo it by regularly drinking one or two cans of soda a day. One 20-ounce soda contains 15 to 18 teaspoons of sugar, and up to 240 extra calories. A single soda exceeds the 10 percent added sugar recommendation for an average adult on a 2,000-calorie diet.

"Regardless of how many servings of sugar-sweetened beverages you consume, replacing even just one serving can be of benefit," said the study’s co-author Kiyah J. Duffey, a professor of human nutrition, foods, and exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, in a statement. "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.”

According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, one in four Americans consumes at least 200 calories from sugary drinks, including soda, energy, sports drinks, and coffee. A previous 20-year research project, published in the journal Lancet, revealed among the 120,000 men and women studied, one 12-ounce sugary drink serving a day led to significant weight gain each year. For children, each additional soda they consumed increased their risk of becoming obese by 60 percent.

Duffey concluded: “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."

Sodas and energy drinks aren't the only beverages to beware of. Coffee drinks often contain more sugar than the average glass of cola. Read here.

Source: Duffey KJ, Davy B, and Poti J. Modeling the Effect of Replacing Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption with Water on Energy Intake, HBI Score, and Obesity Prevalence. Nutrients. 2016.