Maybe you have already noticed them: In the US, since February, beverage containers up to 20 ounces state the total calories contained, not just a “serving size”. To some people it will be quite surprising how many calories they actually are drinking.
More Calories Than You Think
Many people didn’t realize that what’s in a container was often more than one serving. And if they did, they may had have trouble to do the math required to get the total: If you buy a soft drink whose bottle contains 20 fl oz. and the serving size is stated as 6 fl oz. containing 100 kcal, how many calories will be in the total 20 ounces?
Hats off to you if you were able to calculate this in your head: It’s 333 kcal.
And They Add Up
Dr. Jessica Bartfield, nutrition specialist at Chicago’s Loyola University estimates that 10% of overweight adult US citizens consume sugar sweetened beverages worth 450 kcal per day, which is three times as much as a normal weight American does. Cutting those 450 daily calories would lead to a little less than 1 pound of weight loss per week or 45-50 lbs per year.
One of Dr. Bartfield’s patients, a man weighing 350 lbs, drank 12 cans of cola per day and, in his own words, was “stunned when the nutritionist poured white sugar in a measuring cup to show me how much sugar I was drinking in just one day”.
It’s There, Now Use It
The new labeling is a voluntary initiative by the American Beverage Association, which, according to a press release, started it to support Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign.
The same press release also specified that the total calories are displayed on the front of all containers up to and including 20 fluid ounces, on vending machines on the selection buttons and on fountain-equipment they are “displayed prominently”.
All this could or could not be a publicity stunt by soft drink companies, done to evade more restrictive legislation; nonetheless the information is now there and you may as well use it.
Picture courtesy of Mark Sebastian.