A bit of good news this week. 16 million less Americans are drinking sugary soft drinks now compared to 6 years ago (68% of adults vs 76%). This, from a report published by Mintel, a marketing research firm.
What are we drinking instead?
That’s the bad news:
1. 7.8 million switched to diet soft drinks.
2. 24 million added bottled water to their shopping carts. (the healthiest choice, but oh so many plastic bottles…)
3. 17 million more gulped down energy drinks. (the caffeine, the calories…)
4. 11 million additional future Olympians opted for sports drinks. (the broken dream of enhancement…)
The study also found that 16% of Americans are concerned about high-fructose corn syrup, while 15% are worried about artificial sweeteners in diet drinks.
At the same time, an academic research report affirms what dietitians have been telling us for quite some time: cutting calories from sugary drinks may be more effective for weight loss than reducing the same amount in solid foods.
The study was conducted by Liwei Chen, M.D., Ph.D., M.H.S., assistant professor of epidemiology, School of Public Health, LSU Health Science Center, New Orleans and published this week in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:
One reason for this [finding] 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.
Thestudy “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.”
What you need to know:
Soft drinks are a very lucrative market for the food industry. The raw materials are dirt cheap (water, sugar, food coloring), and the returns are very high.
The top 2 players in the US, The Coca Cola Company and PepsiCo, are well aware of shifting trends in consumer preferences and have plenty to continue to offer us from their quiver of brands picked up over years of consolidation.
What to do at the supermarket:
Here’s a radical idea. Why not skip the beverage aisle next time you go shopping?
Tap water in the US is clean, refreshing, and of negligible cost.
In fact, a family of 4 will save over $500 in grocery bills by just quitting soft drinks.
What are you waiting for?
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