Turn on your tap to help stop pouring on the pounds.
Kids, teens and young adults who don’t drink water end up guzzling almost 100 extra calories a day from sugary beverages, on average, according to a new study in JAMA Pediatrics.
About one-fifth of the 8,400 subjects ages 2 to 19 in the nationally representative survey reported no water intake on a given day. And after accounting for sociodemographic factors, the researchers found that skipping water (defined as being water that was unsweetened and noncarbonated) was associated with consuming an extra 93 calories and 4.5% more calories from sweetened drinks (such as sodas, juices and sports drinks) than those who had at least one serving of water (defined as anything more than zero milliliters).
“What was kind of surprising was that one in five kids and teens didn’t consume any water at all, and those kids were consuming twice as many calories from sugar-sweetened beverages than those kids who did drink water on any given day,” study author Dr. Asher Y. Rosinger, director of the water health and nutrition lab at Penn State University, told MarketWatch.
While the study reported that metrics such as sex or federal income-to-poverty ratio did not have a statistically significant impact on how many calories these youths consumed when they didn’t drink H2O, their race/ethnic group did appear to have an affect. For example, white, non-Hispanic children who didn’t sip any water consumed an extra 122 calories from sugary beverages — twice as many as the Hispanic children in this study who took in an extra 61 calories. And black, non-Hispanic youths who didn’t drink water fell in the middle, consuming an extra 93 calories in sugar sweetened beverages.
The study admits that its data doesn’t prove causality, as the kids and young adults were not asked their reasons for consuming more sugary drinks, or why they didn’t drink water. But it still recommends that children, adolescents and young adults drink water daily to help avoid consuming extra calories from sugar. In fact, a 2016 American Heart Association report even recommended that parents limit their children ages 2 to 18 to just eight ounces of sugar-sweetened drinks over seven days, or less than 25 grams or six teaspoons of added sugars daily — in other words, less than one can of soda a week. The AHA warned that children who drink sugary drinks are at greater risk of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Indeed, it wouldn’t hurt grown-ups to follow this advice, as the average American adult is eating 20 teaspoons of hidden added sugar every day, or an extra 320 calories, according to the USDA’s nationwide food consumption survey. And many of these are hidden in the form of sweeteners and syrups to flavor processed foods and drinks. A recent AHA report for adults warned that drinking two or more sugary sodas or sports drinks a day appears linked with early mortality, especially among women. Previous studies have also found a correlation between sweetened soft drinks and weight gain, as well as between sugary beverages and health problems related to weight gain, such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“These are dietary benefits that are probably going to be very translatable between kids and young adults, and older adults, in which if you’re not drinking water, then you’re going to have to get your hydration from somewhere,” added Rosinger, who is also a professor of biobehavioral health and anthropology. And that can include sweetened beverages, coffee laced with sugar, or alcohol.
So this new research suggests that if dumping your favorite sweetened soda or sports drink is challenging, then quenching your thirst more frequently with water may be easier to swallow.
Plus, a 2010 study found that people who drank two glasses of water before each meal ate between 75 and 90 fewer calories per meal, and they lost an average of five pounds more weight over three months than those who didn’t drink any water. Drinking water before meals also decreases feelings of hunger and increases your feeling of fullness afterward.
Get a daily roundup of the top reads in personal finance delivered to your inbox. Subscribe to MarketWatch’s free Personal Finance Daily newsletter. Sign up here.