"Our work adds important context to a broader ongoing debate about the dangers of liquid calories," said Professor Jeff Brunstrom from University of Bristol's School of Experimental Psychology.

The researchers looked at whether people factor in liquid calories when they estimate the satiating effect of a meal.

Participants completed a computer-based task that assessed the expected satiation of meals that included either a calorific drink, a non-calorific drink or a snack with the same energy content as the calorific drink.

The researchers also explored the contribution of carbonation on expected fullness. Meals served with a calorific drink were not considered to be any less filling than the same meals served instead with a snack.

However, both the snack and the calorific drink caused only a small increase in expected satiation.

"Calories in soft drinks and calories in snack foods have a small but comparable effect on the expected satiation of meals," Brunstrom noted.

The research was scheduled to be presented at the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior Conference (SSIB 2014) in Seattle, USA this week.

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