The Power of Water in Fighting Obesity

By Satesh Bidaisee, Associate Professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, St. George's University
December 22, 2017

Over two in three Americans are overweight or obese.[1]

That’s dangerous. Obesity is linked to over half of cancers among women and nearly a quarter among men.[2] Obesity also causes a host of other devastating diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression.[3]

Sugary and low-nutrition beverages are a major reason for this epidemic. Swapping these out for water is a simple, yet powerful, way to shed extra pounds and boost health.

Nearly one-third of Americans enjoy a sugar-sweetened beverage — like a Coke or lemonade — every single day.[4]

These drinks are packed with calories. A common 20-ounce soda has 15 to 18 teaspoons of sugar and over 240 calories. The gargantuan 64-ounce fountain sodas beloved by movie-goers contain about 700 calories — over a third of the average person’s daily recommended allotment.[5]

Those empty calories increase people’s risk of disease. Every sugary beverage added to a child’s daily diet increases his chances of becoming obese by up to 60 percent, according to the Boston Public Health Commission.[6]

Simply turning down a soda in favor of water can go a long way towards improving health. The old adage holds true: water is indeed life.

For one, drinking water helps folks feel full, reducing overeating. Obese people who drank 16 ounces of water before every meal for 12 weeks lost 3 pounds more than those who did not, according to a study from the University of Birmingham.[7]

Water also helps people burn more calories. Within just ten minutes of drinking a glass of water, the amount of energy the body expends while resting surges by up to 30 percent.[8]

More Americans need to understand how important their beverage choices are to their health. That’s why St. George’s University offers courses that prepare students to advise patients on their nutritional needs. In “Medical Nutrition,” for example, students explore the connections between diet and disease.[9]

The drinks we put in our bodies have a major effect on our health. The next generation of physicians must treat their patients with this in mind.

 

[1] https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/overweight-obesity

[2] http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2656710

[3] https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/effects/index.html

[4] https://www.theverge.com/2016/2/25/11113154/cdc-soda-sugar-drinks-report-us-demographics-statistics

[5] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/sugary-drinks-fact-sheet/

[6] http://www.bphc.org/whatwedo/healthy-eating-active-living/sugar-smarts/be-sugar-smart/Pages/Health-Effects-of-Sugary-Drinks.aspx

[7] http://time.com/4011532/water-weight-loss/; http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/oby.21167/abstract

[8] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/drinking-water-helps-with-weight-loss#section1

[9] http://www.sgu.edu/course-curriculum/path-693-medical-nutrition/

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