Low-calorie beverages (LCBs) are promoted as healthy alternatives to sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs); however, their effects on diet quality and cardiometabolic profile are debatable. This study aimed to verify the association between LCB consumption, diet quality and cardiometabolic risk factors in British adults. Data analysis from 5521 subjects aged 16 and older who participated in two waves of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey Rolling Programme (2008–2012 and 2013–2014) was carried out. Compared with SSB consumption, LCB consumption was associated with lower energy (mean difference: −173 kcal, 95% confidence interval, CI: −212; −133) and free sugar intake (−5.6% of energy intake, 95% CI: −6.1; −5.1), while intake of other nutrients was not significantly different across groups. The % difference in sugar intake was more pronounced among the young (16–24 years) (−7.3 of energy intake, 95% CI: −8.6; −5.9). The odds of not exceeding the UK-recommended free sugar intake were remarkably higher in the LCB as compared to the SSB group (OR: 9.4, 95% CI: 6.5–13.6). No significant differences were observed in plasma glucose, total cholesterol, LDL, HDL or triglycerides. Our findings suggest that LCBs are associated with lower free sugar intake without affecting the intake of other macronutrients or negatively impacting cardiometabolic risk factors.
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