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HEALTHY BEVERAGE DRINK YOUR WAY TO BETTER HEALTH Whether we realize it or not, daily drinking habits impact health. From sugary drinks to water, what and how much we drink each day has a physiological price tag. Research has shown that drinking sugary beverages can increase body weight and the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, whereas consuming adequate amounts of fluid like water is important for cognitive functioning and controlling blood sugar. But how does an individual’s overall beverage pattern affect one’s health? That’s a good question, which is why nutrition researchers Brenda M. Davy and Kiyah J. Duffey developed the Healthy Beverage Index – a scoring system made of ten components designed to evaluate the healthiness of an individual’s daily beverage consumption. Using data from national health surveys, they found that a higher score correlates to better cholesterol levels, lowered risk of hypertension, and in men, lowered blood pressure. Using the index as a guide, individuals can earn up to 100 points by engaging in healthy activities like drinking enough water and ensuring that no more than 10 percent of the day’s calories come from drinks. “We know people want specific guidelines on the types and amounts of foods and drinks to consume, so the next step is to make the index more accessible, either online or as a mobile application,” said Davy, a professor of human nutrition, foods and exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, a Fralin Life Science Institute affiliate, and an affiliate of the Fralin Translational Obesity Research Center. Davy designed the index with Duffey, the director of Global Scientific Affairs at LA Sutherland group and is an adjunct faculty member in the same department.

- Cassandra Hockman

Drinking habits matter for a healthy body, so Virginia Tech nutrition researchers have developed a point system to help people make smart choices. Photograph by Jim Stroup

A LOOK INSIDE THE HEALTHY BEVERAGE INDEX A higher score indicates a healthier daily beverage pattern. What’s your pattern? Daily fluid requirements vary from person to person, and also depend on factors like climate and activity level. In general, though, fluid needs correspond to daily calorie requirements. Someone who needs 2000 calories per day to maintain her body weight, for example, would need roughly 2000 mL of fluid. Do you get enough fluids everyday? Consider adding fresh fruit like lemon or strawberry to water, or take fluids everywhere you go! Share your tips for daily healthy drinking on Twitter with @FralinLifeSci or use #drinkyourway.

index components


point value


Water comprises at least 20% (daily) fluid requirements.


coffee & tea

Unsweetened coffee & tea comprise 0-40% of fluid requirements


low fat milk

Skim, low fat, and/or soy milk comprises 0-16% of fluid requirements


diet drinks

Artificially sweetened beverages comprise 0-16% of fluid


100% fruit juice

100% fruit juice comprises 0-8% of fluid requirements



Between 0-1 drinks for women, 0-2 drinks for men


2% or whole milk

0% of fluid requirements coming from 2% of whole milk


sugar-sweetened beverages

0-8% of fluid requirements coming from sweetened drinks, like sodas, fruit drinks, and sweetened coffee or tea


total beverage energy

Less than 10% of the day’s calories from beverages


meeting daily fluid requirements

Meeting total fluid requirements

20 Adapted from Table 1 in Duffey & Davy 2015

Reference: Duffey KJ, Davy BM. The Healthy Beverage Index is associated with reduced cardiometabolic risk in US adults: a preliminary analysis. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015;115(10):1682-1689. - 11

The Fralin Explorer Fall 2015  

Fralin Life Science Institute's bi-annual magazine

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