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Attention to beverage calories grows, but has yet to catch up with waistlines

May 27, 2010 | 10:50 am

Drink Calories count, even if they're not chewed. Consumers know this, and yet still they splurge. (Often daily. At every meal. And in between meals.) But, finally, it seems, they're starting to do the math, even as researchers are analyzing the finer effects of what we drink.

The journal Physiology & Behavior recently devoted an entire issue to beverages and health.

Among the featured papers:

-- Patterns of beverage use across the lifecycle. The upshot: Kids are lapping up increasing amounts of  treacly drinks; so are adults. Adults over 60, however, seem to cut back on beverages in general.

From the abstract: "The consumer shift toward increased levels of [sugar-sweetened beverages] and alcohol, limited amounts of reduced fat milk along with a continued consumption of whole milk, and increased juice intake represent issues to address from a public health perspective."

-- Dairy beverages and energy balance. The upshot: Calcium is good for you; don't skimp on it.

From the abstract: "A new line of evidence suggests that an inadequate calcium intake during an energy restricted weight loss program may trigger hunger and impair compliance to the diet."

-- Alcohol, appetite and energy balance: Is alcohol intake a risk factor for obesity? The upshot: Some alcohol seems to be good; more is probably bad.

Water From the abstract: "Epidemiological data suggests that moderate alcohol intake may protect against obesity, particularly in women. In contrast, higher intakes of alcohol in the absence of alcohol dependence may increase the risk of obesity, as may binge-drinking, however these effects may be secondary to personality and habitual beverage preferences."

And now we have the just-released Drink This, Not That!, both for consumers who prefer the simplicity of being told what to do and for those who enjoy marveling at the shocking number of calories available for a relative pittance. (Perhaps you've perused Eat This, Not That! Same  approach.)

The new offering gives this example, among  others: A Gotta Have It (i.e. large) sized PB&C shake from Cold Stone Creamery: 2,010 calories.

It's unclear just how popular such an offering is -- or whether an almost-500 calorie alternative is truly the best way to go.

But attention to such details is good. And overdue.

Here's CalorieCount's offering of calories in beverages -- many, many beverages to be exact.

And here's some free advice on choosing beverages from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among the tips: Skip whipped cream at the coffee shop. Ask that smoothies be prepared without added sugar. And then there's this: Drink water with meals.

It's crazy enough, it just might work.

-- Tami Dennis

Photos: Don't kid yourself. Credits: Los Angeles Times