Americans may like their drinks "sickeningly sweet" but a new labeling initiative may discourage us from pouring on the unnecessary calories, said Jessica Bartfield, MD, medical weight-loss specialist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital.
As of February, the front labels of packaged beverages now include the total number of calories in containers of 20 ounces or less. "Liquid caloric consumption can be quite a significant contribution to weight gain so this is a tremendous effort to educate the public," said Dr. Bartfield, who is part of the Loyola University Health System campus physician-led team of exercise physiologists, nutritionists and psychologists who work together to change the behaviors of those significantly overweight.
"Beverage containers traditionally 'hid' the nutritional content at the back in a small square with small print and cleverly listed just the calorie content per serving," Bartfield said.
"Unbeknownst to those who are happily guzzling their favorite cola or fruit drink, most packaged beverages contain multiple servings, and most Americans fail to do the math on the total calorie count."
Dr. Bartfield's top three "sickeningly sweet" statistics include:
- Just A Spoonful of Sugar -- "The average American consumes 22.5 teaspoons of added sugar daily, half of which comes from regular soda and fruit drinks, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2004)."
- Sugar On Top -- "10 percent of overweight adults consume 450 calories of sugar sweetened beverages per day, which is three times that of an average American. Cutting 450 calories per day would lead to about a 1 pound per week weight loss, close to 50 pounds in one year."
- Babies and Beverages -- "A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that reduction in sugar-sweetened beverages (regular soda, fruit drinks and fruit punch) had a significant effect on weight change at 6 months and 18 months, even more of an impact than solid- calorie reduction."
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