Desperate to shed flab? Well, keep a tab on what you drink rather than what you eat, for a new study says that beverage consumption is actually a bigger factor when it comes to weight loss.
Researchers in the US have found that weight loss is positively associated with a reduction in the intake of liquid calorie consumption and it has a stronger impact on weight than solid calorie intake.
"Both liquid and solid calories were associated with weight change, however, only a reduction in liquid calorie intake was shown to significantly affect weight loss during the six-month study," lead researcher Benjamin Caballero of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said.
In their study, the researchers analysed data of 810 adults, aged 25-79 years old, who participated in an 18-month randomised and controlled experiment. They measured participants' weight and height using a calibrated scale and a wall-mounted stadiometer at both 6 and 18 months. Dietary intake was measured by conducting 24-hour dietary recall interviews by telephone. And, the researchers divided beverages into several categories based on calorie content and nutritional contents for the study. For example, composition sugar-sweetened beverages (regular soft drinks, fruit drinks, fruit punch, or high-calorie beverages sweetened with sugar), diet drinks (diet soda and other 'diet' drinks sweetened with artificial sweeteners) and milk.
Caballero said: "A reduction in liquid calorie intake was associated with a weight loss of 0.25 kg at 6 months and 0.24 kg at 18 months."
"Among sugar-sweetened beverages, a reduction of 1 serving was associated with a weight loss of 0.5 kg at 6 months and 0.7 kg at 18 months. Of the seven types of beverages examined, sugar-sweetened beverages were the only beverages significantly associated with weight change."
Added co-researcher Liwei Chen: "Among beverages, sugar-sweetened beverages was the only type significantly associated with weight change at both the 6- and 18-month follow up periods."
"Changes in the consumption of diet drinks and alcoholic beverages were inversely associated with weight loss, but were not statistically significant. Our study supports policy recommendations and public health efforts to reduce intakes of liquid calories, particularly from sugar-sweetened beverages, in the general population."
The findings are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.