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Are you Drinking Your Calories?

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New data released from the Centers for Disease Control indicates that many are not following the recommendation to “eat our calories, not drink them.” On average, men consumed 175 calories a day of sugar sweetened beverages, women almost 100. Teenagers consume the most, but young adults between 20 and 49 are not far behind. On any given day, half of the population consumes a sugary drink, 25% consume up to 200 calories a day and 5% drink over 550 calories a day (more than 4 cans of soda).

According to Rachel Johnson, nutrition professor at the University of Vermont and spokesperson for the American Heart Association (AHA), “sugar sweetened beverages are the No. 1 single source of calories in the American diet and account for about half of all sugar that people consume.” Not only do the extra calories contribute to weight gain but as the  AHA pointed out in its Scientific Statement on Dietary Sugars and Cardiovascular Health in 2009, they can significantly increase the risk for cardiovascular disease by increasing blood pressure, triglycerides, vascular inflammation, and  blood sugar. They are far more than just “empty calories.”

When we think of sugary drinks we think of soft drinks, and they do make up the majority of the sugar we drink. But we also get sugar from energy drinks, sport drinks, and sweetened bottled waters.

The AHA suggests we limit our consumption of drinks with added sugar (they did not include 100% fruit  juice) to no more that 450 calories a week, about 3, 12 ounce cans of soft drinks. Better yet, think of sugary soft drinks as occasional treats.

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