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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

GW: Study Finds Children and Teens Who Drink Low-Calorie Sweetened Beverages Do Not Save or Take in Extra Calories

U.S. children and teens who consumed low-calorie or zero-calorie sweetened beverages took in about 200 extra calories on a given day compared to those who drank water, and they took in about the same number of calories as youth who consumed sugary beverages, according to a new study led by a researcher at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH).

“These results challenge the utility of diet or low-calorie sweetened beverages when it comes to cutting calories and weight management,” said Dr. Allison C. Sylvetsky, an assistant professor of exercise and nutrition sciences at Milken Institute SPH and lead author of the study. “Our findings suggest that water should be recommended as the best choice for kids and teens.”

After adjusting for body weight, the researchers found consuming low-calorie sweetened beverages, sugary beverages and combined consumption of both was associated with 196, 312 and 450 higher calorie intake compared to youth who drank mostly water. There was no significant difference in calorie intake between consumers of low-calorie sweetened beverages and sugary beverages.

The study, “Consumption of Low-calorie Sweetened Beverages is Associated with Higher Total Energy and Sugar Intake Among Children, NHANES 2011-2016,” was published May 2 in the journal Pediatric Obesity. 

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