Study: Drink more water, lose more weight - USATODAY.com

BOSTON — Dieters who replace sugary drinks with water lose an extra 5 pounds a year, and those who drink a couple of more cups of water a day increase weight loss by 2 pounds a year, a study presented Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Obesity Society suggests.

Most popular diet programs and books advise drinking plenty of water to aid digestion and to help reduce intake of sodas and other high-calorie drinks, but there haven't been many studies to back up the advice.

So researchers analyzed weight-loss data on 240 overweight women, ages 25 to 50, who were following one of several popular diet plans, including Atkins and The Zone, programs that restrict carbohydrate consumption to varying degrees.

Before beginning their programs, the women drank an average of about two cans a day of sugary drinks (about 200 calories total), including soda and juice. Findings:

•Dieters who replaced virtually all sweetened drinks with water lost an average 5 pounds more in a year than dieters who didn't.

•Those who drank more than four cups of water a day lost an additional 2 pounds more than dieters who did not drink that much.

"Drinking water can help you lose weight, partially because you are replacing some calories, and there may be additional reasons related to the total volume of water that we don't understand," says lead researcher Jodi Stookey of Children's Hospital and Oakland Research Institute in California.

Thomas Wadden, president of the Obesity Society, says the study "is a provocative and important finding. Water displaced the consumption of sweetened beverages, and that's great news."

When you are trying to lose weight, it's easy to change the beverages you drink, says Barry Popkin, nutrition professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

"It doesn't matter if you drink bottled water or tap water: Just drink more water. It's a powerful way to cut weight."

Adults haven't changed their water intake over the past decade, but they are drinking about 20 more ounces a day of caloric beverages. "This is the major cause of our overall caloric increase during this period, and it's clearly linked with the increase of obesity."