Study Totals Extra Calories Americans Consume in Their Tea and Coffee

coffee tea

Many of the more than 160 million people in the U.S. that drink tea or coffee on a regular basis use cream, sugar, flavored syrups or other calorie-laden additives in their drink of choice. A new study discloses just how much Americans are adding to their caloric intake by either sweetening, or spicing up their tea or coffee.

The research studied data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey spanning from 2000 to 2012. The data included information from a nationally representative sample of 6,215 adults who reported drinking tea and 13,185 adults who reported drinking coffee in the 24 hours before being surveyed.

Ruopeng An, a University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor conducted the study. He explained that the data suggests that more than 51% of American adults drink coffee on any given day and nearly 26% drink tea. He also found that approximately 66% of the coffee drinkers and 33% of the tea drinkers added cream, sugar, flavorings, or other calorie rich additives to their drinks.

Professor An added that numerous people prefer drinking coffee and tea with cream, sugar, honey, or half-and-half. These items are often low in nutritional value, but dense in fat and energy. Milk products add some calcium to the diet, but the amount is negligible at, on average, 22 milligrams per day. The recommended daily calcium intake is 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams, depending on a person’s age and pregnancy status.

An found that people who drink their coffee black (which should be fresh ground if possible), consume about a total of 69 fewer calories per day than those who add cream, sweeteners, or other substances to their coffee. More than 60% of those calories come from sugar, while fat accounts for most of the rest of the extra calories consumed.

The study also found that if tea drinkers add anything to their tea at all, they tend to add fewer calorie-dense substances. Drinking tea with caloric add-ins on average increased daily caloric intake by more than 43 calories compared to adding nothing to one’s tea. Close to 85% of the added calories coming from sugar.

Although the daily intakes seems small, the extra calories every day could easily add up to extra pounds.

An concluded that the findings indicate that a lot of tea and coffee drinkers regularly use add-ins high in calories to improve the flavor and taste of their beverages, but don’t always fully realize or take into account its nutritional or caloric implications.

The full study was published in the journal Public Health.