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Healthy Eaters' No-Calorie Diet Secret

Hint: It's as Close as Your Faucet
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 2, 2006 -- People who drink lots of water tend to have healthier diets than those who favor other beverages.

So say Barry Popkin, PhD, and colleagues in Obesity Research.

They studied what Americans ate and drank over a three-year period. Their findings:

  • Nearly 9 in 10 Americans report drinking water
  • Average water consumption is 50 daily ounces -- more than 6, 8-ounce glasses

People who drank the most water had these traits in common:

  • Consume nearly 200 fewer daily calories
  • Were less likely to drink soft drinks or fruit drinks
  • Reported eating more fruits and vegetables
  • Were more likely to consume low- or medium-fat dairy products

Did water inspire those diets? That's not clear. People who drink lots of water may be particularly health conscious, the researchers note.

Parched for Water?

People who drank little or no water also had some things in common:

  • High consumption of desserts
  • High consumption of high-fat meats and non-caloric drinks (other than water)
  • High consumption of high-fat dairy products and salty snacks
  • Increased intake of candy, caloric drinks, and fast food

Data came from national diet surveys of 4,755 U.S. adults. Coffee, tea, and other water-based drinks were counted separately.

Older people and those with more education were more likely to report drinking lots of water, according to the surveys, which were done by the CDC from 1999 to 2001.

"Clearly this paper is just a small step forward in our efforts to understand more about water intake patterns and their relationship with overall diet," write Popkin and colleagues.

They call for future studies to track water consumption and eating habits over time. Meanwhile, young adults and those less educated should be encouraged to drink water, the researchers note.

"In fact, anyone not consuming water/eating a healthy diet should be encouraged to do so," since those steps could curb calorie intake, Popkin's team writes.

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