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Weight Management Nuggets

Is your drink making you fat?
It could be what you drink rather than what you eat that's packing on the pounds!

That's the surprising news from researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health in Chapel Hill who determined that, on average, we're consuming 83 more calories a day from caloric sweeteners than we did in 1977. And 80 percent of that--66 calories--comes from soft drinks and sugary fruit drinks.

If you think 83 additional calories a day isn't that much, think again. If you were to consume an additional 10 calories a day, in one year you would have gained a pound. The "caloric sweeteners" that are adding all these calories to our diet include sugar, high fructose corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, and other products. "If we are going to consume more beverages, we are going to gain weight," according to Dr. Barry Popkin, "We consume a little more from ready-to-eat cereals, candy, a little extra dessert, but those pale in comparison to the soft drinks and fruit drinks." One problem is that fluids don't make us as full as solids, so we consume more. Or worse, they replace more healthy choices, such as nonfat milk.

"When you drink highly sweetened beverages, they don't feel like a thick, rich, creamy, high-calorie treat- -but they are," Samantha Heller, senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center, explains. "You don't necessarily feel it until you step on the scale or try to fit into your blue jeans."

People who are between the ages of 10 to 30 consume the most soft drinks and fruit drinks. "That's the time when it's even scarier, when we get our bone density, when we need milk and need many of the foods that have nutrients, not just nothing-- which is what sugar has," Popkin explained.

"Sugar has calories to make us fat with no other benefit. "After soft drinks and fruit drinks, desserts and sugar/jellies are the major sources of caloric sweeteners in the United States.The study findings were published in the journal Obesity Research.

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