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Wilburn: Want to lose weight? Rethink what you drink
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Tapping the tap
Try these tips to help you and your family rethink your drink:
  • Help children learn to enjoy water as the thirst-quencher of choice.  Be a good role model — make water your beverage choice.
  • Make soft drinks a “sometimes” beverage to be enjoyed in moderate amounts. Remember that soft drinks include fruitades, fruit drinks, lemonade, energy drinks, sweet tea and sports drinks.
  • Add a slice of lemon, lime or orange to jazz up your water. Make a pitcher of water with fruit slices and keep it in the refrigerator.
  • Keep water and other calorie-free beverages on hand at work, at home and in the car. Make it easy for everyone to choose water. We tend to drink what is available, so make your home and office sugar-free.
  • Carry a water bottle with you and refill it throughout the day.

Americans are drinking more soft drinks than ever; per-capita soft drink consumption has increased almost 500 percent during the past 50 years.

One reason for the steady rise in soft drink consumption is larger portion sizes; fountain drinks can range in size from 22 to 64 ounces. Children start drinking soda at a remarkably young age, and consumption increases through young adulthood.

People who drink soft drinks take in more calories than those who do not. Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages has been associated with weight gain, being overweight, obesity and type 2 diabetes. A 12-ounce can of soda has 150 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. If these calories are added to the typical diet without cutting back on something else, one soda a day could lead to a weight gain of 15 pounds in one year.

Sports drinks, another popular soft drink, are for athletes who participate in high-intensity aerobic exercise for at least 90 minutes. Most kids are not this active. The added sugar and sodium in sports drinks are unnecessary for children and youth. Sports drinks offer little advantage over water for kids.

While a normal eight-ounce serving of coffee contains between 134 and 240 mg of caffeine, the caffeine content of an eight-ounce serving of an energy drink can range between 72 and 150 mg. But the catch is that most energy drinks come in bottles containing two to three servings, bringing the potential caffeine content in one bottle to 450 mg. Sugar content of these beverages ranges from 0 to 30 g per serving.

So next time you reach for an energy drink, remember that you are really drinking a highly caffeinated beverage, probably containing sugar and other ingredients, that may or may not live up to claims made about it and may or may not be safe for consumption.

Drinking water is the No. 1 strategy to rethink your drink. It is the perfect beverage — it is calorie-free, sugar-free, fat-free and almost free (if you drink tap water).

Adapted from eXtension.

Debbie Wilburn is county extension agent in family and consumer science with the Hall County Extension. Contact: 770-535-8290.

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