Objective: Reduced intake of sweetened caloric beverages (SCBs) is recommended to lower total energy intake. Replacing SCBs with non-caloric diet beverages does not automatically lower energy intake, however. Compensatory increases in other food or beverages reportedly negate benefits of diet beverages. The purpose of this study was to evaluate drinking water as an alternative to SCBs.
Research methods and procedures: Secondary analysis of data from the Stanford A TO Z intervention evaluated change in beverage pattern and total energy intake in 118 overweight women (25 to 50 years) who regularly consumed SCBs (>12 ounces/d) at baseline. At baseline and 2, 6, and 12 months, mean daily beverage intake (SCBs, drinking water, non-caloric diet beverages, and nutritious caloric beverages), food composition (macronutrient, water, and fiber content), and total energy intake were estimated using three 24-hour diet recalls. Beverage intake was expressed in relative terms (percentage of beverages).
Results: In fixed effects models that controlled for total beverage intake, non-caloric and nutritious caloric beverage intake (percentage of beverages), food composition, and energy expenditure [metabolic equivalent (MET)], replacing SCBs with drinking water was associated with significant decreases in total energy intake that were sustained over time. The caloric deficit attributable to replacing SCBs with water was not negated by compensatory increases in other food or beverages. Replacing all SCBs with drinking water was associated with a predicted mean decrease in total energy of 200 kcal/d over 12 months.
Discussion: The results suggest that replacing SCBs with drinking water can help lower total energy intake in overweight consumers of SCBs motivated to diet.