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The easiest slimming tip

Nearly all ways of losing body fat require a lot of effort and discipline, which is why there are few people who actually win the fight against overweight. But a study that researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill published in the American Journal of Clinical North provides some hope, because replacing an ordinary soft drink with a light-equivalent is something everyone can do.

The average American teenager gets ten percent of his daily energy requirement from soft drinks. That's about 250-280 kcal per day. [Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jan;89(1):372-81.] The health effects of this eating pattern are negative. Studies have shown that people who drink one or more glasses of soft drinks per day are more likely to develop diabetes and cardiovascular disease [Circulation. 2007 Jul 31;116(5):480-8.]. And overweight of course too. [Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Aug;84(2):274-88.]

You'd expect that you'd automatically lose weight if you took soft drinks out of your diet, but you wouldn't know for sure until you try it for yourself. And that's exactly what researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill did.

The Americans did an experiment with 318 overweight people. All of them drank soft drinks. The researchers divided them over three groups, all approximately of the same size.

The first group drank water [WA] instead of soft drinks; the second got cola light [DB]. The subjects in the second group were asked to replace at least two glasses a day of sugar-containing soft drinks with light versions or water.

A control group was also given intensive information. [AC] The participants in this group were weighed once a month, and they were given instructions on how to read the labels, what a healthy weight is and that energy is good for burning energy. The researchers did not give the subjects in the control group any targets to aim for.

The subjects in the control group did change their lifestyle as a result of the coaching they were given. The effect of this on their bodyweight is shown below. The control group started to eat more consciously and more healthily.

The easiest slimming tip

Replacing soft drinks with water or light soft drinks had more effect. The subjects in the WA and DB groups had lost about two kilograms of bodyweight.

"On a population level, replacement of caloric beverages with noncaloric alternatives could be an important public health message", schrijven de onderzoekers. "Replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with either diet beverages or water, based on the consumers' preference and ability to adhere, appears warranted at this stage of research on the basis of these findings. Future research should examine long-term health effects of consuming either beverage as a replacement for caloric beverages before specific recommendations can be made."

Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Mar;95(3):555-63.

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