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How Do You Score on the Healthy Beverage Index?

Jan. 4, 2016|745 views
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Scientists at Virginia Tech have developed a new tool to help nutritional professionals and concerned consumers alike assess beverage intake patterns. The goal is to get a better understanding of what effect beverage intake has on health. Dubbed the Healthy Beverage Index (HBI), the new scoring system assigns values to various types of drinks and enables researchers to look for associations between beverage quality and the risk of heart disease and other lifestyle diseases.

“A Healthy Beverage Index (HBI), similar to the Healthy Eating Index, could be used to evaluate overall beverage intake quality and to determine if improvements in beverage intake patterns are associated with improvements in health,” explained Kiyah J. Duffey, PhD, of the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise, Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg VA. “A great deal of attention has been directed at sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) intake, and a broader focus beyond just SSBs is needed.” The HBI score ranges from 0 to 100. Higher scores show better adherence to beverage guidelines and reflect a healthier beverage intake pattern.

According to the scoring system, intake of water is good, while intake of other, more sugar-laden drinks is less so. Using this scoring system, the investigators were able to search for associations between the HBIs of more than 16,000 adults who have been participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (2005-2010). Scores were examined in light of findings regarding individuals’ “cardiometabolic” risk. Cardiometabolic risk factors include things like blood pressure, fasting blood sugar levels, and blood lipids, such as LDL- and HDL-cholesterol. The factors reflect one’s relative risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, or the metabolic syndrome.

As you might expect, people with the highest HBIs had better cardiometabolic outcomes. Ultimately, say researchers, this system may be used by clinicians to understand the ways in which various beverages may be affecting their patients’ health, and suggest ways that patients could improve their beverage intake to improve their health. 

Elsevier Health Sciences. "Nutrition researchers develop healthy beverage index: Valuable new tool that examines associations between overall beverage quality, cardiometabolic risk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 July 2015. .