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Sweet and spicy flavours add beverage calories, study notes

By Will Chu , 03-Feb-2017
Last updated on 03-Feb-2017 at 13:07 GMT2017-02-03T13:07:31Z

Drinking coffee and tea with additions on a regular basis might impact an individual's daily energy/nutrient intake and diet quality. ©iStock/Easy Company
Drinking coffee and tea with additions on a regular basis might impact an individual's daily energy/nutrient intake and diet quality. ©iStock/Easy Company

Individuals are piling on excess calories by sweetening or adding spice to their coffee or tea, according to a study from the US.

Data obtained from 13,185 coffee-drinkers and 6,215 tea-drinkers revealed that the most popular additions to their drink were calorie-heavy sugar or cream.

More findings revealed much of the energy intake came from sugar and saturated fat.

The use of these additions may offset the beneficial effects gained from consuming tea and its influence on weight management for example.

These items are often dense in energy and fat but low in nutritional value.

“Public health campaigns and nutrition education programs should provide audiences with adequate caloric and nutritional information regarding coffee/tea add-ins in an effort to help them make informed diet choices,” the authors stated.

Caloric implications

The adults, who all lived in the US, formed the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) sample.

Data came from 2001 - 2012 of these adults who reported coffee and tea consumption in in-person 24-hour dietary recalls, respectively.

The University of Illinois researchers found that around 67.5% of coffee consumers and 33.4% of tea consumers used caloric add-ins.

Sugar or sugar substitute, cream or cream substitute, half and half, and whole or reduced-fat milk were among the most popular additions for coffee;

Sugar or sugar substitute, honey, and whole or reduced-fat milk were popular additions for tea.

Those who drank coffee with additions had a daily total caloric intake, caloric intake from sugar, total fat, and saturated fat of 15.9, 3.6, 8.3, and 1.3 kilocalories (kcal), respectively;

Among tea consumers the figures were 27.7, 20.3, 0.04, and 0.13 kcal, respectively.

“Compared with adding nothing to one’s tea, drinking tea with caloric add-ins increased daily caloric intake by more than 43 calories, on average, with nearly 85% of those added calories coming from sugar,” said Dr Ruopeng An, kinesiology and community health professor at the University of Illinois.

“Our findings indicate that a lot of coffee and tea drinkers regularly use caloric add-ins to improve the flavour of their beverages, but possibly without fully realising or taking into consideration its caloric and nutritional implications,” he added.

Source:  Public Health

Published online ahead of print: doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2016.12.032

“Consumption of coffee and tea with add-ins in relation to daily energy, sugar, and fat intake in US adults, 2001–2012.”

Authors: R. Ana and  Y. Shib

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