If a teenager swaps sugary sodas and drinks for non-calorie drinks his/her chances of losing weight improve significantly. According to a report in the journal Pediatrics, replacing these sugar-sweetened drinks can cut consumption of calorie-loaded soft drinks by up to four-fifths.

In the study, non-calorie drinks were delivered to teenagers' homes for a period of six months. There were 47 boys and 56 girls - all aged 13-18. Half received non-calorie drinks while the other half received sugary drinks - the two groups were randomly selected. They consumed, on average, one drink a day.

Those receiving non-sugary drinks were also told not to consume sugary drinks when outside the home. The other group were told to carry on as they normally would.

The researchers found that teenagers today consume half their soft drinks at home.

They found that over the six month period, those receiving the non-calorie drinks had cut their sugary drinks consumption by 82%. The other group did not change.

It was found that at the end of the six months, changes in body mass index (BMI) did not change significantly among people who were not very overweight at the start of the study. However, those who started off with a BMI of over 25 did had a significant reduction in Body Mass Index. In the group who were told not to change their habits, those who started off with a BMI over 25 actually got fatter.

The results were not affected by such factors as gender, age, ethnicity, family income or race. The amount of physical activity was not changed during the study period either.

Cara Ebbeling, Ph.D., one of the authors of the study said the trial was small and over a short period. Further, larger studies, over a longer period, would be needed.

This study indicates that the inclusion or exclusion of sugary drinks has a significant impact on the weight of people who are already quite overweight or obese.

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