(HealthDay News) – Overweight and obese adults drink more diet beverages than healthy-weight adults, but eat more solid-food calories and consequently have comparable total calorie intake, according to a study published online Jan. 16 in the American Journal of Public Health.

Sara N. Bleich, PhD, from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues examined national patterns in adult diet-beverage consumption and caloric intake by body-weight status using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999–2010 for 23,965 adults (aged >20 years and older).

The researchers found that 11%, 19%, and 22% of healthy-weight, overweight, and obese adults, respectively, currently drink diet beverages. Among adults consuming sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) vs. diet beverages, total caloric intake was higher (2,351 vs. 2,203kcal/day; P=0.005). On assessment by body weight category, the difference in calorie intake was only significant for healthy-weight adults (2,302 vs. 2,095kcal/day; P >0.001). Calories from solid-food consumption were higher among adults consuming diet beverages compared with those consuming SSBs (overweight: 1,965 vs. 1,874kcal/day; P=0.03; obese: 2,058 vs. 1,897kcal/day; P<0.001). For overweight and obese adults, the net increase in daily solid-food consumption associated with diet-beverage intake was 88 and 194kcal, respectively.

“With heavier adults increasingly switching to diet beverages, the focus on reducing SSBs may be insufficient for long-term weight-loss efforts,” the authors write. “Heavier adults who drink diet beverages will need to reduce their consumption of solid-food calories to lose weight.”

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