Virginia Tech University has released a new study suggesting that replacing just one sugary beverage with water per day can have enormous health benefits over time. Sugary beverages include sodas, energy drinks, fruit juices, coffee with added sugar, and even “diet” drinks. According to the study, choosing water over one of these drinks just one time a day can decrease overall calorie intake and can reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Swapping one eight ounce high calorie beverage with water can also make a difference in overall health.
The study took place from 2007-2012 and included over 19,000 adults. Kiyah J. Duffy, an adjunct faculty member with Virginia Tech and one of the researchers of the study, found that replacing just one beverage with water could drop the amount of calories consumed from drinks from 17 to 11 percent. “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 percent of their daily caloric intake,” says Duffy. Co-authoring the study with Duffy was Jennifer Poti, an assistant professor of nutrition and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
The study also found that people who chose more water tended to make healthier dietary choices overall. People who drink more high-calorie beverages were also more likely to eat more red meat, starches, and junk food. Those who drank water were more likely to have diets higher in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
While this study was funded by the Drinking Water Research Foundation, the results do follow what the Dietary Guidelines of America suggest, which is that individuals do not consume more than ten percent of their calories from added sugar. Reducing calories consumed from sweetened drinks also increases scores on the Healthy Beverage Index – a system that evaluates drinking habits and how they affect diet and health. It is based on standards created by the Beverage Guidance Panel and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This index was created in 2015 by Duffy and Brenda Davy, a nutrition researcher from Virginia Tech.