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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Obesity – a problem of what we eat or a problem of what we drink?

As an exercise, take a look at just what you drink during a day.  From the morning coffee (double double is about 115 calories) and a glass of juice( 120 calories).  A morning break latte (220 calories). A soft drink (140 calories) with lunch,  perhaps a  beer after your post-work workout ( 150 calories) and a glass of red wine with dinner (150 calories).  Finish the evening with a glass of whole milk (150 calories).  

Suddenly and without any thought, you have consumed nearly 1000 calories.  You could add in one of the top ten calorific drinks, topping the list at over 1000 calories a drink and have all those calories in a single big gulp. 

Of course you can revise the daily drink menu by having plain coffee (0 calories), water instead of juice (0 calories).  A no-fat latte (130 calories), diet soft drink (5 calories), lite beer (100 calories), white wine (90 calories), water in the evening (0 calories) for a total of 320 calories.  

Skip the alcoholic beverages and latte and the daily consumption begins to reflect what our ancestors would consume from drinks.  At first there was water and water and water.   Crushing berries and fruits that had begun to rot, resulting in a drink with intoxicating effects likely led to domestication of grapes and production of wine  9000 years ago.  Concurrently would be the domestication of animals and consumption of milk products.  Beer has its roots about 5000 years ago.  Tea is traced back about 3000 years and coffee 700 years.  Carbonated soft drinks have their origin about 300 years ago. Many of today’s calorie dense drinks like the café latte and milk shake go back a 100 years, and the more recent sports drinks having origins in the 60’s and energy drinks in the 80’s and 90’s.   History lesson aside, the point to be made is that we as humans were not designed to maintain fluid balance and calorie balance concurrently.  Fluids have historically been calorie sparse.   Food is the normal source for caloric content. 

Perhaps it is not surprising that body building and weight gain efforts tend to focus on nutritional supplement drinks with high caloric content as a way to gain weight – an issue for a minority of the population though these supplements are often promoted as "healthy" alternatives when caloric intake required for the vitamins is substantive. 

So – the next time you are thirsty or needing a coffee break, count the number of unwanted calories that you are consuming.  Just 100 additional calories a day difference in consumption amounts to an annual total of nearly 5 kilograms.

Wouldn't most of us want to drop a few extra kilos/pounds? 

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