Large caloric intake blamed on beverages

Published 2:30 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2007

By Staff
Those who point the accusing finger at fried foods and sweets as culprits behind America's burgeoning obesity rates are right to do so, but they often overlook another big contributor - high-calorie beverages.
Recently, the New York Times' Jane Brody reported that 21 percent of the calories consumed by Americans beyond age 2 are derived from beverages. Therein lies part of the problem associated with spiking U.S. obesity rates, nutritionists contend. Also, while these beverages often hit the spot in terms of quenching thirst, many are lacking, if not downright worthless, in nutritional value.
In fact, Brody notes a steep increase in the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks in recent decades at the expense of healthier fare, such as milk, which offers &#8220clear nutritional benefits.”
If this isn't a big enough problem, add to this the growing American passion for smoothies and sweetened coffee drinks.
For example, Brody observes that there are 240 calories in a 16-ounce Starbucks Coffee mocha without the whipped cream.
It's not just the high calories, though. Add to the list the weak satiety properties associated with many of these products. What this means is that while these drinks contribute a lot to your daily caloric intake, they do little in terms of suppressing appetite.
The consequences for millions of Americans are steady weight gain and, in all too many cases, chronic obesity.
Ironically, not all of these beverages are devoid of nutritional value. Some actually can play a role within a balanced diet, particularly among healthy Americans who occasionally encounter some difficulties in the course of the day incorporating the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables into their diet. Even so, people with weight problems should limit their intake of these high-calorie fruit juices, Keith says.
Consumers assume that with this regular consumption of juices, they're getting the equivalent of several servings of fruits and vegetables - and they are right, Keith says.
The problem is that they're also getting hundreds of calories that &#8220your brain may not even be registering,” he says, adding that &#8220you're going to eat on top of that, [which] may contribute to your weight gain,” Keith says.
Despite the calorie problems associated with more nutritious fruit and vegetable drinks, as well as milk, he says the real culprits remain the high-calorie sodas and sugar-sweetened, fruit-flavored drinks that remain so popular.
Consuming several of these may add up to 500 or 600 calories a day, even though most people need only a total caloric intake of between 1,800 and 2,400 calories a day.
That's why if you have weight concerns, you should pay close attention to these beverages' caloric content, Keith says.
Nutritional information on a variety of foods is available to the public at the extension offices.
The information on diet and nutrition is just one of the services the extension office provides to the public.
If you have questions concerning nutrition or other topics, please feel free to give us a call.
Our offices are located at off Hwy. 31 South in Brewton. If you have a specific question you can reach our offices at 867-7760.
The extension office is responsible for a variety of programs at area schools as well as presentations for clubs and organizations throughout the community. Topics include nutrition, diet, wellness and illness prevention.

Email newsletter signup