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Fewer Sugary Drinks Key to Weight Loss
Date:4/2/2009

Cutting down on sodas, other sweet beverages may work better than eating less, study finds

THURSDAY, April 2 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to losing weight, cutting back on the calories in sugar-sweetened drinks, rather than food, may be most important.

So say researchers who found that cutting back on calories from sugary beverages -- by only one serving per day -- accounted for nearly two-and-a-half pounds of lost weight over 18 months.

"Weight loss from liquid calories is greater than loss of calorie intake from solid food," concluded lead researcher Dr. Liwei Chen, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health at the LSU Health Science Center in New Orleans.

One reason for this is that the body is able to self-regulate its intake of solid food. For example, if you eat too much solid food at lunch, you'll tend to eat less at dinner. But the same self-regulation is not there for what you drink, experts say. Your body does not adjust to liquid calories, so over time, you gain more weight, Chen explained.

"If you reduce your intake of beverages, particularly sugar-containing beverages, it's a simple but easy way to help you maintain your weight," Chen said. "You can avoid additional weight gain, or if you are on a diet, it's an easy, simple way to help you achieve your goals," Chen added.

One dietitian said the finding wasn't so surprising.

The study "supports what many have suspected -- liquid calories don't satisfy," said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis. "In addition, the identification that [sugar-sweetened beverages] can impact weight gain more than other liquids is an important message as Americans continue to work to lower their calories."

And if you get thirsty? "Drink water," Chen said.

The report was published in the April 1 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutr
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