Soda-loving Americans need to rethink their drink

According to a new report released Wednesday from the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Americans are guzzling sugary drinks and soda in staggering quantities. Half of Americans drink at least one soda or sugary thirst-quencher a day, and experts aim to set forth a new plan to reel in those numbers, and waistlines.

The report followed interviews conducted between 2005 and 2008 in which more than 17,000 Americans said their beverages of choice were sugar-packed drinks, adding empty calories to their daily diets.

Want to enjoy a 20-oz. bottle of soda with your lunch? Add 227 calories to your tab. Grab a whole-milk latte on your way to work? That's 265 extra calories, not counting the muffin.

While Americans lead the pack in daily soda consumption, other countries such as the UK are combating their own obesity issues, and experts say a good place to start is at the beverage counter.

The CDC advises making the switch to drinking water (sparkling or still, spruced up with a lime if necessary). For sodas and drinks, check calorie counts and look at ingredient lists for sugar and its caloric ilk: high-fructose corn syrup, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, sucrose, dextrose, just to name a few.

For your favorite smoothie and coffee bar treats, request that your drink be made with fat-free or low-fat milk and order the smallest size available. Skip the extra syrups and whipped cream toppings as well. For smoothies, request that no added sugar be tossed into the blender - keep it simple: fruit, juice, yogurt.

Unfortunately replacing soda and sweet drinks with diet versions won't do your health any favors, according to research. One recent 10-year study revealed that people who drank two or more diet sodas a day gained 70 percent more abdominal fat than those in the study who didn't drink diet soda. Another study released earlier this year found that diet soda drinkers also face a higher risk of heart attack and stroke than people who do not drink any soda.

"Healthier choices abound," states the Mayo Clinic. "Start your day with a small glass of 100 percent fruit juice. Sip water throughout the day. Save diet soda for an occasional treat."

For more tips on making smarter choices to quench your thirst, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/drinks.html

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