Water & Your Health

Hydration Choices

Beverages, Calorie Consumption and Your Health

All beverages add to hydration, but what you choose — and how much of it — can also affect your health.

When you consider your beverage choices, you also should keep in mind caloric content and what this means for your body.

A recent study showed that the average American gets 21 percent of his or her calories from beverages. The majority of these beverages are soft drinks and fruit drinks with added sugars. In general, there has been a large increase in consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks over the last several decades. Also, these types of beverages do very little, if anything, to curb your appetite, and people are not compensating for these calories by eating less.

Weight gain and obesity have become acknowledged health issues in the United States. In 1960, only 13 percent of the U.S. population was obese. In contrast by 2003-2004, 66% of U.S. adults were overweight or obese. (Source: Wang, Youfa and May A. Beydoun. "The Obesity Epidemic in the United States - Gender, Age, Socioeconomic, Racial/Ethnic and Geographic Characteristics: A Systematic Review and Meta-Regression Analysis.")

Changes in lifestyle choices, including beverage choices, have contributed to these weight-related health challenges. In the past 40 years calories per capita consumption from beverages have increased by 226 calories daily, 152 of which come from caloric sweetened beverages. (Source: Popkin, Barry M., Nestlé S.A., "Nestlés Water Management Report; An expert voice on beverages and human health." March 2007: 17)

Read more here on how various beverages may affect your body and health.

Deciding How to Hydrate

Here is a recommended breakdown of how to balance your beverage intake to optimize health benefits of certain beverages and mitigate the excess calories of others.

UNC Suggested Beverage Consumption Patterns Pitcher graphic

Individuals who drink water are more likely to have a lower calorie intake and have a healthier diet pattern including fruit, vegetables and low-fat milk. (Source: Popkin, 2005) Also, drinking water instead of three sugary drinks a week for a year could save 6,084 grams of sugar, which is 24,336 calories. (Source: American Journal of Public Health, January 2007)