Replacing just one calorie-laden, sugary drink with water may help shed extra kilos, as well as improve overall health, a new study has found.
Consuming additional calories from sugary beverages like soda, energy drinks, and sweetened coffee can increase risk of weight gain and obesity, as well as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
"Regardless of how many servings of sugar-sweetened beverages you consume, replacing even just one serving can be of benefit," said Kiyah J Duffey, from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).
Researchers modelled the effect of replacing about 230 ml sugar-sweetened beverage with a 230 ml serving of water, based on the daily dietary intake of US adults aged 19 and older, retrieved from the 2007-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.
They showed that this one-for-one drink swap could reduce daily calories and the prevalence of obesity in populations that consume sugary beverages.
"We found that among US adults who consume one serving of sugar-sweetened beverages per day, replacing that drink with water lowered the per cent of calories coming from drinks from 17 to 11 per cent," Duffey said.
"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 per cent of their daily caloric intake," he said.
A reduction in the amount of daily calories coming from sugary drinks also improves individual scores on the Healthy Beverage Index – a scoring system designed to evaluate individual beverage patterns and their relation to diet and health.
Higher scores correlate to better cholesterol levels, lowered risk of hypertension, and in men, lowered blood pressure.
The broader goal of the index is to help people identify what and how much they drink each day, as drinking habits can impact eating habits.
In previous research, higher calorie drinks, such as sweetened soda and high-fat milk, have been associated with diets rich in red and processed meats, refined grains, sweets and starch.
Lower-calorie drinks, such as water and unsweetened coffee and tea, were associated with alternative diets rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and poultry.
Diet drinks are also healthier alternatives to sugary drinks, said Duffey, but research has shown that people who drink water over low-calorie alternatives still tend to eat more fruits and vegetables, have lowered blood sugar, and are better hydrated.
The study was published in the journal Nutrients.