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, study findings indicate.

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 23,965 adults aged 20 years and older who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999 to 2010. The findings were published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Overall, 11% of healthy weight adults reported current diet-drink consumption compared with 19% of overweight and 22% obese adults. Total caloric intake was significantly higher among adults consuming sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) versus diet beverages (2,351 vs. 2,203 kcal/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. 2,095 kcal/day; P<0.001).

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Calories from solid-food consumption were higher among adults consuming diet beverages compared with those consuming SSBs (overweight: 1,965 vs. 1,874 kcal/day; P=0.03; obese: 2,058 vs. 1,897 kcal/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 194 kcal, respectively.

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


  1. Bleich SN et al. Am J Public Health. 2014; doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301556.