New research on the benefits of water

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It’s a remarkable statistic – more than a third of Americans are obese. That’s worse than in any other country. Some cities are attacking the obesity epidemic by targeting sugary drinks with extra taxes. Consumer Reports has important information on whether that strategy is working and what beverages are the best substitutes.

A 20-ounce cola packs a big punch of sugars about 16 teaspoons. Overall, sugary drinks account for roughly 7-percent of all calories consumed in the U.S. and offer next to nothing in nutritional value.

Some cities are adding hefty taxes to soda and other drinks hoping the higher price will cut down on consumption. So-called ‘sin’ taxes can work. The World Health Organization has found that consumption of sugary drinks usually goes down when the taxes on them go up.

If you are trying to drink less soda to reduce sugar and calories, what you drink instead makes a big difference. No surprise here, water is best. If you trade one 20 ounce soda a day for water, you'd  cut out 52 pounds of sugar a year. That simple substitution can translate into a potential 14-pound weight loss in a year.

Research shows there are other important health benefits to water. It can alleviate headaches due to dehydration. Help you fight fever and slow your heart rate. During exercise, water is crucial to keep you cool and prevent dehydration. Experts can’t explain why, but being well- hydrated can improve your mood. Hydrated runners also run faster.

Milk and orange juice can also be healthier substitutes for sugary drinks, but in moderation, as they can pack a lot of calories. Milk and fortified OJ’s big benefit? You’ll get important nutrients like calcium and vitamins along with the fluids you need.

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