Cause for Concern

by Craig Ballantyne

Our environment is making us fat. We drive more, exercise less, eat bigger portions, and consume more liquid calories than ever before. It’s that last point that many experts believe is an underappreciated reason for weight gain.

Researchers from the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina examined dietary records of U.S. adults from as far back as 1965 to as recently as 2002. What they found is a cause for concern.

In 1965, only 11.8 percent of the average adult’s calories came from beverages. However, that number significantly increased to 21 percent by 2002, largely because of an increase in the consumption of sweetened beverages.

Another problem the researchers noted is the huge increase in available beverage options. We now have energy drinks, sports drinks, sweetened teas, juices supplemented with vitamins and antioxidants, and more sodas than ever before.

A proven way to reduce your calorie intake and risk of weight gain is to eliminate sweetened drinks from your diet. So stick with unsweetened iced tea, water, green tea, and a small amount of coffee each day to quench your thirst. Avoid all sweetened beverages. Unless you are exercising for more than 90 minutes, forget about the Gatorade and stick to plain water.