Background: Consumption of liquid calories from beverages has increased in parallel with the obesity epidemic in the US population, but their causal relation remains unclear.
Objective: The objective of this study was to examine how changes in beverage consumption affect weight change among adults.
Design: This was a prospective study of 810 adults participating in the PREMIER trial, an 18-mo randomized, controlled, behavioral intervention trial. Measurements (weight, height, and 24-h dietary recall) were made at baseline, 6 mo, and 18 mo.
Results: Baseline mean intake of liquid calories was 356 kcal/d (19% of total energy intake). After potential confounders and intervention assignment were controlled for, a reduction in liquid calorie intake of 100 kcal/d was associated with a weight loss of 0.25 kg (95% CI: 0.11, 0.39; P < 0.001) at 6 mo and of 0.24 kg (95% CI: 0.06, 0.41; P = 0.008) at 18 mo. A reduction in liquid calorie intake had a stronger effect than did a reduction in solid calorie intake on weight loss. Of the individual beverages, only intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) was significantly associated with weight change. A reduction in SSB intake of 1 serving/d was associated with a weight loss of 0.49 kg (95% CI: 0.11, 0.82; P = 0.006) at 6 mo and of 0.65 kg (95% CI: 0.22, 1.09; P = 0.003) at 18 mo.
Conclusions: These data support recommendations to limit liquid calorie intake among adults and to reduce SSB consumption as a means to accomplish weight loss or avoid excess weight gain. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00000616.