Water is the most essential nutrient for life, but the U.S.D.A. dietary guidelines focus primarily on what to eat, rather than what to drink. And as a result, too many people drink sugar-sweetened beverages instead of water. Twenty percent of our daily calories – and nearly half of all added sugars – come from beverages, according to recent national nutrition survey data. Half of all children and adults say they drink at least one sugar-sweetened beverage a day.
Encouraging shoppers to drink zero-caloric bottled or sparkling water in place of sweetened beverages is a primary strategy towards helping people meet the recommendations in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Health professionals give these guidelines on limiting caloric intake from beverages:
American Heart Association – Limit the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages to 450 k calories (36 ounces) per week, for a 2000 k calorie diet.
American Academy of Pediatrics – Water, not sports or energy drinks, should be the principle source of hydration for children and adolescents. 100% fruit juice should be limited to 4 – 6 ounces per day for children who are 1 – 6 years old, and 8 – 12 ounces per day for children and teens who are 7 – 18 years old.
World Health Organization – Limiting intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy is part of a healthy diet. A further reduction to 5% or less is desirable for additional health benefits. Sugar intake can be reduced by limiting the consumption of foods and drinks containing high amounts of sugars.
As we move into the hot summer months, adequate water consumption is more important than ever. From Nestle Waters USA, here is a visual guideline to use when talking to consumers about how to best structure beverage consumption, to provide the hydration needed each day. Recommendations are based on a 2006 Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, and USDA data.
ᴬ Popkin BM, Armstrong LE, Bray GM, Caballero B, Frei B, Willett WC. A new proposed guidance system for beverage consumption in the United States. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2006; 83:529-542.
ᴬU.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th. Edition, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 2010. Available at: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/ dietary_guidelines_for_americans/PolicyDoc.pdf.