The Gillings Sustainable Agriculture Project: A Gillings Innovative Laboratory


The Invisibility Of Liquid Calories: Drinking Our Way Into Obesity

flerine c. atienza | NUTR245

Whenever you’re feeling hungry, what do you reach for when you walk into your kitchen – a drink or a snack? If you answered, “snack” then you, like many Americans, probably associate solid foods with feeling full. We don’t tend to crave a drink when we are hungry; therefore liquids are usually associated with quenching thirst while solids are associated with satiating hunger.

What are liquid calories?

  • Added sugars are devoid of nutrients other than being sources of energy
  • Artificial sweeteners are not “healthier” alternatives to consuming sugars
  • 67% of 12-to-16-year-olds drink one 12-ounce can of regular carbonated soft drink per day or less

Then, what’s the problem?

Well, because we psychologically categorize solids and liquids them in terms of hunger and thirsty; we don’t tend to include liquids in our calorie intake! The thirstier we are and the sweeter a beverage is, the tastier it is and the more we drink. The more we drink, the more empty calories we consume from liquids alone! Therefore, liquid calories contribute to increasing obesity rates.[1]

Key Terms

Calories: units of energy “empty” calories2 provide energy but have zero nutrition for the body “liquid” calories are high-calorie drinks usually in the form of empty calories

Obesity: a physical condition in  which a person is excessively overweight

Satiety: the feeling/state/condition  of being full or gratified to satisfaction

What is happening?

Some Americans drink sugar-sweetened high-calorie juices and soft drinks in addition to their meals throughout the day; whereas other Americans drink sugar-sweetened high-calorie diet shakes instead of eating their meals. Either way, it is not the actual sugars and calories by themselves that are critically contributing to the obesity epidemic – but our  dietary behavior and the way these drinks are used by the consumer.

Who Is This Happening To?

Advertisements target soft drink and juice commercials to children and teens – making them attractive and appealing. Adults, however, drink soda as well, but it is the youth that drinks these high-calorie beverages regularly. The more empty calories they drink, the more likely they gain weight.

Globally, empirical evidence between countries varies in representing comparable data and results in varying criteria in defining obesity. Therefore, it is difficult to create a standard for measure of comparison.

Obesity is a problem because it leads to many health effects like type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and increased risk of heart disease or stroke.

What Can We Do?

There are many potential policies and plans circulating in response to the liquid calorie – obesity epidemic, but no progress in carrying them out due to lack of reliable evidence in proving that correlation equals causation. One such viable policy is to tax sugar-sweetened beverages.

However, by taxing (aka raising the price of) sugar-sweetened beverages, the general public will increase the demand for even cheaper alternatives, and because cheaper alternatives are usually synonymous with empty calories, the net effect of solving the obesity crisis will defeat the purpose of adding tax. The crisis is a behavioral pattern couched in the affordability of these beverages with their appealing taste and refreshment—taxing the product will not stop or cease the behavior of consuming it, it will only redirect it.

We must educate our youth and integrate nutrition/health as a core and important subject as a priority in our educational system.

250 nutritional calories

250 empty calories

[1] Almiron-Roig, E., Y. Chen, and A. Drewnowski. “Liquid Calories And The Failure Of Satiety: How Good Is The Evidence?.” Obesity Reviews 4.4 (2003): 201.

[1] Waugh, Rachel. “Soda Sock.” Scholastic Choices. 24.3 (2008): 6.

[1] Drewnowski, Adam. “Liquid calories, sugar, and body weight1,2,3.” The American journal of clinical nutrition. 85.3 01 Mar 2007: 651.

[1] Waugh, Rachel. “Soda Sock.” Scholastic Choices. 24.3 (2008): 6.

[1] Wang, Youfa, and Tim Lobstein. “Worldwide Trends In Childhood Overweight And Obesity.”International Journal Of Pediatric Obesity 1.1 (2006): 11-25.

[1] Alpert, Patricia T. “Obesity: A Worldwide Epidemic.” Home, Healthcare, Management, & Practice. 21.1 (2009): 442-444.

[1] Edwards, Ryan D. “Commentary: Soda taxes, obesity, and the shifty behavior of consumers.” Preventative Medicine. 52.6 (2011): 417-418.

*** Sources in call-out box:

  1. Perlmutter, Richard. “Labeling Solid Fats and Added Sugars as Empty Calories.” Journal of the American Diet Association. 111. 2 (2011)
  2. Holmgren, Brooke. “Soda Goes.” Natural Solutions 2011: 36-7.
  3. Wolson, Shelley. “The King Of The Hill: Challenging Soda.” Foodservice Director 16.3 (2003): 102.
  4. Neuman, Chad. “Diabetes Linked To Soda Consumption.” American Fitness. 23.5 (2005): 51.
  5. Grudnik, Lynn. “Soda consumption linked to pancreatic cancer.” Health Science. 33.2 (2010): 9.

Annotated bibliography

Nutr 245: liquid calories factsheet

Almiron-Roig, E., Y. Chen, and A. Drewnowski. “Liquid Calories And The Failure Of Satiety: How Good Is The Evidence?.” Obesity Reviews 4.4 (2003): 201.

This article explores the attribution of liquid calorie consumption to increasing obesity rates by defining, testing, and comparing satiety levels between liquids and solids in energy consumption – that is, whether or not subjects feel more “full” after drinking high-calorie liquids vs.  eating solid food. The study concludes that while solids appear to be more satiating than liquids, it isn’t exactly the case.  It all depends on how full one is (their “pre-load” volume) and the time-lapse between their pre-load volume and their next liquid or solid consumption –not the actual solid or liquid, itself.

Alpert, Patricia T. “Obesity: A Worldwide Epidemic.” Home, Healthcare, Management, & Practice. 21.1 (2009): 442-444.

This article analyzes obesity as an epidemic. Increasing rates of obesity make it one of the most common chronic diseases in both children and adults. The article first defines obesity, introduces the problem with quantitative data and poses the problem as a health risk, then it discusses the increase in medical care costs, and then discusses some potential prevention and treatments. However, the article does not pose any solutions to the problem. It also does not go into detail about the source of the obesity problem. It just gives us an introduction to the notion that increasing obesity rates are problematic.

 

Drewnowski, Adam. “Liquid calories, sugar, and body weight1,2,3.” The American journal of clinical nutrition. 85.3 01 Mar 2007: 651.

This article analyzes quantified data collection analyzing the consumption patterns of sugared liquids and its resulting effect in weight gain. At first, we are introduced to the argument that liquid calories are causally related to weight gain, but through analysis, conclude that it the correlation does not account for causation. This is because consumers who drink sugar-heavy high-calorie juices and soft drinks in addition to their meals whereas other consumers drink sugar-heavy high-calorie diet shakes instead of eating their meals. Therefore, it is not sugar-heavy liquid consumption and metabolism that is critically contributing to the obesity epidemic – but consumer dietary behavior and the way these drinks are used by the consumer.

Edwards, Ryan D. “Commentary: Soda taxes, obesity, and the shifty behavior of consumers.” Preventative Medicine. 52.6 (2011): 417-418.

Taxing sugar-sweetened beverages is a proposed policy response to the increasing obesity rates that threaten public health. This article explores this policy response and the consequences of its potential. Using economic analysis, Edwards argues that by taxing (aka raising the price of) sugar-sweetened beverages, the general public will increase the demand for even cheaper  alternatives, and because cheaper alternatives are usually synonymous with empty calories, the net effect of solving the obesity crisis will defeat the tax’s purpose. Therefore, taxing beverages is not a solution to the obesity problem while evidence remains to be weak.

Grudnik, Lynn. “Soda consumption linked to pancreatic cancer.” Health Science. 33.2 (2010): 9.

This article examines research investigating the link between soda consumption and cell division. The study did not focus on linking soda consumption to common-associated health effects like type-2 diabetes or obesity, but rather, how soda’s glycemic load increases blood insulin levels. Increased blood insulin leads to increased cell division, and increased cell division can lead to greater chances of cancerous cell development. The study is introductory, however, so more research needs to be put forth. Yet, the information is still vital in the ongoing discourse of soft-drink effects on health.

Hamalainen, Karina. “Pop Risk: drinking too many sodas and sugary beverages contributes to teenage obesity rates.” Scholastic Choices. 27.4 (2012): 15.

This is an article in a magazine summarizing the harmful effects, focusing on risks of obesity and diabetes, in soda consumption. Using facts and statistcs gathered and compiled from the National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Study, 2010 and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the article argues that drinking too many sugary beverages contributes to increasing teenage obesity rates. This is because adolescents are drinking more calories and sugar in one sugar-sweetened beverage serving alone than what the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends in one day.

Holmgren, Brooke. “Soda Goes.” Natural Solutions 2011: 36-7. 

This article reveals that a glass of soda has as much sugar in it as a glass of nine teaspoons of sugar. The article further lists alternatives to soda beverages to quench not only thirst, but satisfy taste. The alternatives include recipes and nutrition information for water + fruit, juice + seltzer, fruit smoothies, iced tea, coffee, energy drinks, and protein drinks.

                 

 

Neuman, Chad. “Diabetes Linked To Soda Consumption.” American Fitness. 23.5 (2005): 51.

This brief article discusses a new study showcasing a higher incidence of type 2 diabetes among women who consume more soft drinks than women who consumed less. However, the soft-drink community, including the American Beverage association, responded to this claim by criticizing its overgeneralization – that no one type of food or beverage could be 100% responsible for increasing risk of diabetes in America.

Perlmutter, Richard. “Labeling Solid Fats and Added Sugars as Empty Calories.Journal of the American Diet Association. 111. 2 (2011).

This article investigates the validity/appropriateness of labeling solid fats/empty sugars as “empty calories.” A chart is included in the article to reveal the top sources of solid fats and the percent-contribution to total fats intake. Perlmutter argues that grouping solid fats with added sugars as empty calories is inaccurate because many solid “junk” foods still contain some nutrients; whereas added sugars like aspartame do not.

 

Wang, Youfa, and Tim Lobstein. “Worldwide Trends In Childhood Overweight And Obesity.”International Journal Of Pediatric Obesity 1.1 (2006): 11-25.

This article claims that although there is consensus that obesity is more than just a nationwide epidemic, but is growing to be a global one, the lack of solutions comes from a lack of sources – empirical evidence between countries varies in representing comparable data and results in varying critieria in defining obesity. Therefore, it is difficult to create a standard for measure of comparison. Furthermore, obesity rates have increased more dramatically in economically advancing countries. Although trends of obesity differ from country to country, childhood obesity is still an increasing global problem without a workable solution.

Waugh, Rachel. “Soda Sock.” Scholastic Choices. 24.3 (2008): 6.

This article discusses the harmful effects of soda – focusing on its calorie content in addition to its more general health effects. It introduces the topic with interview questions discussing the commercial value and appeal of soda to the general youth and then immediately provides fast facts about soda’s lack of nutritional value from empty calories to dehydration and calcium loss.

Wolson, Shelley. “The King Of The Hill: Challenging Soda.” Foodservice Director 16.3 (2003): 102.

This article examines the marketing effects of the dissemination of information boom regarding soda and health. In recent years, the soft-drink industry has been facing increasing competition with water and other alternative beverages. With more literature exposing the harmful health effects of soda, more and more people are starting to cut-back on their soda purchasing.

Advertisements

Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: