New Nationwide Study Suggests Healthier Beverage Choices in U.S. May be a...

New Nationwide Study Suggests Healthier Beverage Choices in U.S. May be a Key Strategy to Help Fight Obesity

Dr. Aliza Helps launch new campaign to reverse this troubling trend and urge Hispanic families to ‘think about your drink’


Washington, DC–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–January 8, 2007–With nearly two out of three Americans overweight or obese, one of the keys to a healthier weight could be rethinking what you drink each day.

A new comprehensive analysis of U.S. beverage consumption called What America Drinks (1) suggests that making healthier beverage choices could play a key role in the battle against Americans’ widening waistlines. While people trying to lose weight may tend to focus on what’s filling their plates, the new study suggests that it’s time for Americans to take a closer look at what’s in our glasses, cups, cans and car drink holders, too.

The “What America Drinks” report states that Americans (including Hispanics) consume more than 500 calories through beverages per day. According to the November 2006 Multicultural Marketing Study OmniPLUS, conducted by Yankelovich, 64% of all Hispanics think that they consume less than 300 calories through their drinks in any given day.

This in-depth analysis of what we’ve been drinking revealed that beverages supplied nearly a quarter (22%) of our total calories – with nutrient-poor, sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, fruit-flavored drinks, and presweetened teas, as the largest contributor. The report found that teenagers and adults drank two to three times the amount of sweetened beverages as they did milk, which some researchers have identified as a trend associated with an increased risk of obesity (2)(3). Some studies suggest that teenagers and adults who drink more milk and less nutrient-poor, sugar-sweetened beverages are more likely to maintain a healthier weight.

A recent research review published in the International Journal of Obesity examined the growing body of evidence linking the increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages to today’s escalating rates of obesity, particularly among children and adolescents. Some other studies suggest that low milk consumption may be a risk factor for obesity (4)(5)(6)(7).

“Added sugars, especially in drinks, are linked to higher calorie intake,” said registered dietitian Connie Diekman of the American Dietetic Association. “Making small changes in what you drink may help prevent weight gain and may aid in weight loss.”

The goal of the new Think About Your Drink campaign is to raise awareness of the important role beverage choice could play in the fight against obesity. The campaign messages are supported by the American Dietetic Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and the School Nutrition Association, organizations each participating in the unveiling of the new campaign today in Washington, DC.


Parents are instrumental in teaching their kids healthy eating habits from an early age. A 2004 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that moms who regularly drink milk and make it available at family mealtimes ensure that their kids get enough calcium as they enter adolescence, which is a critical time for bone growth and development. This is crucial given that more than half of the women in the referenced Yankelovich Study reported that they sometimes, rarely, or never look at nutrition information on beverage containers.

Doctor Aliza Lifshitz, one of Hispanic’s favorite doctor and a nationally recognized medical expert remarks: “Given the high index of obesity among Hispanics, it is important that Hispanic moms focus on demonstrating healthy behaviors to their children. I would advise them to role model healthy habits such as drinking (3) glasses of low-fat or fat-free milk everyday, eating more vegetables, whole grain foods, and to exercise. Their example will make their kids follow suit and do the same and that is the point”, she concluded.

Awash in Nutrient-Poor Sugary Sodas

The new beverage consumption study results show that nutrient-poor, sugar-sweetened beverages like soft drinks provided more calories to an adult’s diet than any other beverage category. Yet, these “stealth” calories could often be overlooked by Americans. Experts say that nutrient-poor, sweetened beverages are a problem not only because of the empty calories they contain, but because they can push nutrient-rich beverages out of the diet – including lowfat and fat free milk.

The What America Drinks report found that teen boys consumed an average of 32 ounces of sweetened beverages a day (387 calories – 13% of total daily calories); teen girls drank 22 ounces, which contributed on average a 12% of total daily calories or 267 calories a day to their diets – which extrapolating would translate into about 8,000 calories over the course of a month. In contrast, teen boys drank only 12 ounces of milk a day and teen girls drank even less, an average of 7 ounces, or not even a full serving of milk.

U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 24 ounces of lowfat or fat free milk or milk products each day for both teens and adults. However, Hispanics have a misconception about the nutritional value of lowfat milk. According to the referenced Yankelovich Study, 42% of Hispanics believe that lowfat/fat free milk does not have the same nutritional value as whole milk.

Some studies have shown that avoiding milk during childhood may increase the risk of being overweight during adolescence. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that Asian and Caucasian girls ages 9-14 who drank milk tended to have less body fat, while soft drink intake was associated with greater body weight. Researchers found that one milk serving was linked to lower body fat, while one can of soda was connected to an almost 4-pound increase in body weight. (2)

“We’re alarmed that soft drinks may potentially take the place of milk in the diets of children and teenagers,” said Jay E. Berkelhamer, MD, FAAP, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “This is not only a concern related to obesity; but too many soft drinks instead of calcium-rich milk decreases adolescents’ ability to gain optimal bone mass, and that could increase the risk of fractures later in life.” Only 16% of the Hispanic women in the referenced Yankelovich Study were concerned with the lack of nutrients in the soft drinks they consume.

In response to the childhood obesity epidemic, the School Nutrition Association has been actively involved in changing the types of beverages available in schools, where children and teens spend two-thirds of their day and eat one, and often two, of their meals.

“We recognize the importance of encouraging healthier beverage choices among our young people.” said Janey Thornton, president of the School Nutrition Association. “Milk is a core component of the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs and we’ve been helping to promote lowfat and fat free milk and other healthful options throughout schools, including in vending machines and at school events. We’re thrilled to support Think About Your Drink to help America’s youth make better beverage choices.”

What America Drinks found that adults also drank soda or another sweetened beverage more often than milk. Adult women, ages 19-49 years, consumed the least amount of milk – an average of 6 ounces a day. They drank three times as many sweetened beverages, 18 ounces a day or 10% of daily calories (214 calories).

The new What America Drinks report found that women age 14-49 years of age who drank higher amounts of milk and lower amounts of nutrient-poor, sweetened beverages tended to weigh significantly less than their peers who consumed higher amounts of sweetened beverages and lower amounts of milk – regardless of overall calorie intake.

Milk’s Role in Weight

Claudia Gonzalez, a renowned certified Hispanic nutritionist and author of the book “Gordito Doesn’t Mean Healthy”, explains: “Given the high obesity rates among Hispanics and the reality that they are predisposed to certain diseases, it becomes essential to educate them about the importance of looking more closely at the beverages they intake.”

This suggests that sweetened beverage consumption may be associated with an increased weight due to factors other than the increased calorie intake.

Beyond the findings of the What America Drinks report, some research suggests that if you need to lose weight and your diet is currently low in calcium, including 24 ounces of low fat or fat free milk in a reduced-calorie diet could help you lose more weight than cutting calories alone.

What America Drinks also confirmed that milk was the primary beverage source of important nutrients such as calcium, protein, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin A and zinc in the American diet.

Think About Your Drink

To help change the way America drinks, the new Think About Your Drink campaign is involving the help of dietitians, pediatricians and school nutrition professionals.

The campaign will include new public service-type ads on television with Dr. Aliza and a new Hispanic Milk Mustache ad in magazines featuring our newest celebrity. To help illustrate the impact of what you drink, new online tools are available at, where you can log on to receive a personalized nutrition analysis of your daily drinks. You also can download a personal training program hosted by fitness guru Kathy Smith and register for the Great American Weight Loss Challenge – a program that has been successful for more than 160,000 women in the last two years.

To bring the message directly to Americans from coast to coast, the Think About Your Drink campaign will hit the streets in April with a 75-city educational tour.

Teenagers who kick the can and reach for milk more often could win a chance to star in their very own Milk Mustache ad. To learn more about the teen challenge, visit

For more information about the Think About Your Drink campaign and a copy of the What America Drinks report, visit

The Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), Washington, D.C., is funded by the nation’s milk processors, who are committed to increasing fluid milk consumption. The MilkPEP Board runs the national Milk Mustache “got milk?” Campaign, a multi-faceted campaign designed to educate consumers about the health benefits of milk. For more information, go to The tagline “got milk?”(R) was created for the California Milk Processor Board by Goodby Silverstein & Partners and is licensed by the national milk processor and dairy producer groups.

1. What America Drinks is based on a comprehensive study conducted by ENVIRON International Corporation. The report analyzed data from more than 10,000 Americans ages 4 and older who participated in the government’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999-2000 and 2001-2002 and provided reasonable dietary reports of food/beverage intakes.

2. Novotny R, Daida YG, Acharya S, Grove JS, Vogt TM. Dairy intake is associated with lower body fat and soda intake with greater weight in adolescent girls. Journal of Nutrition. 2004;134:1905-1909.

3. Malik VS, Schulze MB, Hu FB. Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2006; 84:274-288.

4. Teegarden D. The influence of dairy product consumption on body composition. Journal of Nutrition. 2005; 135:2749-2752.

5. Zemel MB, Thompson W, Milstead A, Morris K, Campbell P. Calcium and dairy acceleration of weight and fat loss during energy restriction in obese adults. Obesity Research. 2004. 12(4): 582-590.

6. Melanson EL, Donahoo WT, Dong F, Ida T, Zemel MB. Effect of low- and high-calcium dairy-based diets on macronutrient oxidation in humans. Obesity Research. 2005;13:2102-12.

7. Pereira MA. The possible role of sugar-sweetened beverages in obesity etiology: a review of the evidence. International Journal of Obesity. 2006; 30:S28-S36.

New Nationwide Study Suggests Healthier Beverage Choices in U.S. May be a Key Strategy to Help Fight Obesity