Liquid calories are ingested so easily, it’s hard to take them seriously. Without realizing, many of us may be consuming 45 percent of our required caloric intake for the day through beverages. If you're wondering why you haven’t lost weight, even though you're exercising and eating properly, calorie-laden beverages might be to blame.

In fact, new research offers the disturbing suggestion that regular consumption of sugary, high-calorie beverages may turn on genetic switches that incline our bodies to weight gain.

"Calories from sugar-sweetened beverages do matter," Yale University endocrinologist Sonia Caprio wrote in an editorial that accompanied a new set of studies published by the New England Journal of Medicine. "The time has come to take action."

Although sodas, sports drinks, blended coffees and other high-calorie beverages have long been assumed to play a leading role in the nation's obesity crisis, these three studies are the first to show that consumption of sugary drinks is a direct cause of weight gain.

As public health leaders step up efforts to temper Americans’ thirst for sugar-sweetened beverages, these studies reveal even more reasons to avoid sugary drinks.  They found that removing sugary drinks from kids’ diets slows weight gain in heavy teens and reduces the odds that normal-weight children will become obese.

Caprio advocates “limiting consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, especially those served at low cost and in excessive portions, to attempt to reverse the increase in childhood obesity.”

Watch Your Intake!

Flavored Water — Many people replace water with sports drinks, flavored waters, and other beverages that promise energy boosts and nutrition. What advertisements won’t tell you is that many of these are loaded with artificial sugars and sweeteners.

Soft Drinks — An 8-oz can of regular soda can contain 90–160 calories, so consuming a 16-oz bottle with dinner would add a staggering 280 calories to your meal.

Coffee Drinks — You might think having a morning latte has no effect on your diet. Surprise! A tall Caffè Latte from Starbucks® has 180 calories, without counting the additional 60 calories from the whipped cream!

Juices — Whether it is orange, grape, or cranberry, juices are loaded with sugars and calories. An 8-oz glass of Simply Orange® contains 110 calories, 22g of sugars, and 26.9g of carbohydrates. If you have a glass of orange juice each morning, you will consume an extra 770 calories by week’s end.

Alcohol — Alcoholic beverages contain the highest amount of calories of all beverages. Whether it is a 12-oz can of beer or a mixed drink, alcoholic beverages can be a cocktail for catastrophe when it comes to your weight.

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