After a long day of work you come home, recline in your favorite chair, grab your newspaper and a cool refreshing, cherry-flavored or crisp misty soda of choice. This is the daily routine for many chronic soda drinkers.  And it’s a routine chock-full of extra, often imperceptible, calories that likely help to pack on the pounds.

According to beverage industry figures, soft drink makers produce a staggering 10.4 billion gallons of sugary soda each year. That’s enough to serve every American a 12-ounce can every day for a year.  Obviously, pop is not the only contributing factor to weight gain, but many artificially sweetened soft drinks such as lemonades, the other “ades” and sports/energy drinks have the potential to increase weight. These soft drinks are coming under scrutiny for their contributions to the development of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

When consumed in moderation, like anything, weight gain or health-related problems are negligible in otherwise healthy individuals. With 10.4 billion gallons being produced, it can be difficult to resist the urge to indulge.  Studies have shown in men, women and children that cutting back on soft drinks has positive weight loss effects.

One solution to soft drinks is to replace them with flavored waters and low calorie, low sugar drinks, like freshly blended fruit drink. Check out the Nutrition Source’s handy guide to the calories in popular beverages.  See the teaspoons of sugar in popular beverages. You can also find ideas for what to drink instead of sugary drinks, as well as a guide to the best beverages for health, based on advice from an independent panel of experts.

Rhonda Lee is Associate Web Editor for DMMD health