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Publication #FAR8100

Limiting Caloric Beverages for Weight Loss1

Linda B. Bobroff2

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Many parents are concerned about rising rates of obesity and associated health problems among both children and adults. Anything that we can do to make weight management easier is a plus for today’s busy families.

A recent study points to one aspect of our diets that may be easier than most to control: our beverage choices. In this clinical trial, overweight and obese adults were randomly assigned to one of three groups. Two groups drank either water or diet beverages instead of sugar- sweetened drinks, while a control group made dietary changes of their own choosing. At three months into the experiment, people in the groups drinking beverages without calories had reduced their calorie intake by 235 calories per day; they continued to maintain this reduction three months later (Tate et al., 2012).

As it turned out, control group participants also decreased their intake of caloric beverages and made other dietary changes. However, people in the groups that substituted diet or noncaloric beverages for caloric beverages were twice as likely to achieve a 5% weight loss. This level of weight loss is important because it is associated with significant improvements in blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood lipid levels, all of which are related to cardiovascular disease risk (Tate et al., 2012).

Substituting water or diet beverages for sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, sweetened fruit drinks, punch, and sports drinks is a relatively easy change to make. In time, it may lead to important health improvements for the whole family.

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Tate, D.F., Turner-McGrievy, G., Lyons, E., Stevens, J., Erickson, K., Polzien, K., Diamond, M, Wang, X. and Popkin, B. (2012). Replacing caloric beverages with water or diet beverages for weight loss in adults: Main results of the Choose Healthy Options Consciously Everyday (CHOICE) randomized clinical trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 95, 555-63.



This document is FAR1064, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original broadcast date March 21, 2012, as program 1893. Published on EDIS March 2013. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Linda B. Bobroff, professor, Department of Family, Youth, and Community Science, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.