Health Buzz: Half of Americans Consume a Daily Sugary Drink

Even one soda a day can hike your diabetes risk; does drinking water before meals help you lose weight?

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Sugary Drinks Add Hundreds of Daily Calories to Our Diet

On any given day, half the people in the United States guzzle a sugary beverage like soda, sports drinks, or sweetened bottled water. That translates into 175 extra daily calories for men and 94 extra calories for women, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 70 percent of teens and young adults drink a sugar-laden beverage each day, making them the most frequent consumers. The habit costs boys ages 12 to 19 an extra 273 calories a day and girls an extra 171. Interestingly, higher earners opt for fewer sugary drinks than do those in lower-income brackets. And Mexican Americans and blacks drink more sugary drinks than whites do. The findings are worrisome, experts say, because sugary drinks contribute to childhood obesity, diabetes, and other health problems. The American Heart Association recommends getting no more than 450 calories a week from sweetened drinks, the amount found in approximately three cans of soda, NPR reports.

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  • Even 1 Soda a Day Can Hike Your Diabetes Risk

    A soda a day? That's not so bad—a 150-calorie blip, burned off with a brisk half-hour walk. But it's not only your waistline that's at stake, U.S. News reported in 2010. A study published last year in the journal Diabetes Care found that people with a daily habit of just one or two sugar-sweetened beverages—anything from sodas and energy drinks to sweetened teas and vitamin water—were more than 25 percent likelier to develop type 2 diabetes than were similar individuals who had no more than one sugary drink per month. Since the overall rate of diabetes is roughly 1 in 10, an increase of 25 percent raises the risk to about 1 in 8. One-a-day guzzlers in the study also had a 20 percent higher rate of metabolic syndrome, a collection of indicators such as high triglyceride levels suggesting that diabetes is not far off.

    "Previous studies have shown that sugar-sweetened beverages are strongly associated with weight gain," said lead author Vasanti Malik, a research fellow in the Harvard School of Public Health Department of Nutrition, who says the decision to examine the relationship between sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of diabetes was "the logical next step."

    The researchers conducted a study of studies—a meta-analysis—to reach their conclusions. They identified eight studies with enough data to let them check for a link between sugary drinks and type 2 diabetes and three similar studies of metabolic syndrome. The largest diabetes study, which followed more than 91,000 American women ages 24 to 44 for eight years, made the strongest case for a relationship, and it wasn't just because higher consumption of sweetened drinks added excess calories that turned into pounds. While weight gain is a known diabetes risk factor, the diabetes-beverage link persisted even after adjusting for that. "Other factors independently put you at risk for developing diabetes," said Malik. [Read more: Even 1 Soda a Day Can Hike Your Diabetes Risk.]

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    • Does Drinking Water Before Meals Help You Lose Weight?

      Drinking two 8-ounce glasses of water before breakfast, lunch, and dinner may be just the backstop your willpower needs to help you shed pounds permanently, according to a study published in Obesity. Researchers instructed two groups of overweight or obese men and women to follow a low-calorie diet, asking one group to also drink two cups of water before meals. After 12 weeks, the water drinkers had lost an average of 15½ pounds, compared with 11 pounds for the control group, U.S. News reported in 2010. Those who continued the habit for a year lost an additional 1½ pounds on average. "I would never promote this as a get-slim-quick scheme," says senior study author Brenda Davy, an associate professor in the department of human nutrition, foods, and exercise at Virginia Tech University, who notes that the practice slows the emptying of the stomach. "This is simply an additional strategy that could help people manage their hunger." [Read more: Does Drinking Water Before Meals Help You Lose Weight?]