Not everyone drinks regularly, of course, but new research shows that about 30 percent of men and 18 percent of women 20 or older use some type of alcoholic beverage on a daily basis.
On average, however, “there are people who consumed less than one drink a day,” said study author Dr. Samara Joy Nielsen, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). “Many do not realize that even a low daily consumption can lead to weight gain over time, “he said.
“The drinks have calories for adults,” said Nielsen. “We have forgotten that and we did not examine how the drinks contribute to caloric intake among adults.”
To put things in perspective, “a beer is 150 calories and a can of soda has 150 calories,” he said. “We must be aware of all calories consumed in the day, including coffee and tea, sugary drinks and alcohol.”
The new report itemize consumption patterns of alcoholic beverages by U.S. adults 2007-2010. For the study asked participants to count the number of drinks they had in a period of 24 hours. Men were more likely to opt for beer than any other type of alcohol, while women seemed to prefer wine.
The average of 100 calories per day represents about 16 percent of total calories, the researchers said. As expected, the biggest drinkers were men between 20 and 39, who consume 174 calories of alcohol per day, on average.
A small drink is not necessarily unhealthy, and current U.S. dietary guidelines suggest that moderate consumption of alcohol, one drink a day for women and two drinks for men, may have a place in a healthy diet. For the report, “a drink” matched a 12 ounce serving of beer or wine, liqueur 8 ounces of malt , 5 ounces of table wine and 1.5 ounces of distilled liquor.
The new findings suggest that most people adhere to these limits. However, 20 percent of men and 6 percent of women consume more than 300 calories of alcohol in a given day, which is more than two drinks and drink more than specified in the Dietary Guidelines for each sex .
“But up to 100 calories per day can add up to overweight if people are not careful,” said nutritionist. Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, said 100 calories per day of alcohol result in an increase in weight of 5 kilos per year if the calories are in addition to your normal daily intake. “These data provide important information to help consumers to understand where the calories,” he said.
Eric Rimm, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, agreed that the report is “a good summary of current consumption in the United States and the calories are derived from those drinks.”
But he added that measuring alcohol consumption in a given day may not give the full picture when it comes to individuals. “On a given day when people eat potato chips can make up to 25 percent of total calories,” said Rimm. “But most people do not eat potato chips every day,” he said.