Health

Beware Blended Coffee Drinks -- They Pack on the Pounds

| by National Institutes of Health

Love your afternoon pick-me-up? A blended coffee beverage might hit the spot but pack on the pounds, a new study suggests.

A survey of about 3,000 purchases from 115 restaurant chains in New York City found that servings of brewed coffee or tea average about 63 calories, even when some include milk and sugar. But get a blended beverage and you're looking at 239 calories on average -- 89 more than you're likely to find in a can of soda.

A large ice-blended beverage, meanwhile, can reach 750 calories or more. At one coffee chain, 8 percent of the customers interviewed bought the largest size of a blended drink, which can boast 860 calories.

"The popularity of blended coffee beverages has grown in recent years," Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City's health commissioner, said in a news release from the city's Health Department. "Unfortunately, many of these drinks are loaded with calories. Your afternoon pick-me-up may be weighing you down."

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Research suggests that 17 percent of U.S. adults buy one of these blended drinks each day.

What to do? Beverages such as coffee and tea can have fewer than 10 calories, although you might need to studiously ignore those sugar packets, the health department suggests. Low-fat or skim milk can help, too, as can getting a "small" size if the drink is sugar-sweetened and flavoring it yourself.

The survey findings are reported online and in the October issue of Preventing Chronic Disease.