The panel, led by Barry M. Popkin, a nutrition professor at the University of North Carolina, was distressed by the burgeoning waistlines of Americans and the contribution that popular beverages make to weight problems. But the experts also reviewed 146 published reports to find the best evidence for the effects of various beverages on nearly all of the above health problems. I looked into a few others, and what follows is a summary of what we all found.
At the head of the list of preferred drinks is — you guessed it — water. No calories, no hazards, only benefits. But the panel expressed concern about bottled water fortified with nutrients, saying that consumers may think they don’t need to eat certain nutritious foods, which contain substances like fiber and phytochemicals lacking in these waters. (You can just imagine what the panel would have to say about vitamin-fortified sodas, which Coca-Cola and Pepsi plan to introduce in the coming months.)