Afternoon pick-me-up could be weighing you down

Wed Sep 23, 2009 11:35am EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - It's meant to pick you up and get you through the rest of the day but added calories in afternoon coffees can weigh people down.

A New York City Health Department survey of coffee chains showed that a black coffee, or one served with milk, sugar, or both, had an average of 63 calories.

But blended varieties, prepared behind the counter often with pre-sweetened milk, ice or pre-mixed, can have four times as many calories -- about 239, or 12 percent of a 2,000 calorie diet.

A large blended coffee in one chain had about 860 calories.

"The popularity of blended coffee beverages has grown in recent years," said New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. "Unfortunately, many of these drinks are loaded with calories. Your afternoon pick-me-up may be weighing you down."

The survey, which was published in the online journal Preventing Chronic Disease, included 3,000 purchases from 115 coffee and restaurant chains in the city.

Nearly 20 percent of adults in the United States drink at least one blended beverage a day from a coffee chain, according to market research.

But not all drinks are loaded with calories. A black brewed coffee or tea can have as little as 10 calories. To cut down on calories and reduce the risk of gaining weight, the Health Department suggests consumers order small size beverages with low-fat or skim milk and to eliminate flavorings.

<p>A cup of coffee is pictured at a cafe in Hanoi August 21, 2009. REUTERS/Kham</p>