According to Tufts researchers, while the leading source of calories in the average American diet used to be from white bread, that may have changed. Now, according to preliminary research conducted by scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Americans are drinking these calories instead.
The research was presented in abstract form at the recent Experimental Biology Conference, and a more comprehensive paper is being developed.
Odilia Bermudez, PhD, MPH, studied the reported diets of a large nationwide sample of American adults. Among respondents to the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), more than two-thirds reported drinking enough soda and/or sweet drinks to provide them with a greater proportion of daily calories than any other food. In addition, obesity rates were higher among these sweet drink consumers. Consumers of 100% orange juice and low-fat milk, on the other hand, tended to be less overweight, on average.
Bermudez, who is also an assistant professor at Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, is hopeful that "by helping to identify the main sources of excess energy in the American diet, this work may contribute to the development of much-needed strategies to combat obesity in the American public.
"These results are startling," she continued, "and indicate that we need a much better understanding of how the American diet has changed. Our paper will look more closely at the issue of sweet drink consumption and its relation to obesity factors among three of the main ethnic groups included in the national surveys: African Americans, Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites."