Nutrition Chapter 1: Sources of Empty Calories


Which of the following foods is a major source of empty calories?

  • Sugar-sweetened soft drinks
  • Fresh fruit
  • Fat-free dairy products
  • Breads made with wheat flour


Sugar-sweetened soft drinks are a major source of empty calories.

“Empty calories” refer to calories that come from foods or drinks that have little or no nutritional value. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), empty calories come from added sugars and solid fats, such as those found in sugar-sweetened beverages, sweets, and desserts (USDA, 2015).

Among the options provided, sugar-sweetened soft drinks are a significant source of empty calories. They are typically high in added sugars, providing a large number of calories but lacking essential nutrients (Malik, Popkin, Bray, Després, & Hu, 2010). In contrast, fresh fruit, fat-free dairy products, and breads made with wheat flour all provide essential nutrients and are not typically classified as “empty calories”.

Therefore, it’s important to limit the consumption of empty calories, like those found in sugar-sweetened soft drinks, in order to maintain a balanced diet and support overall health.


Malik, V. S., Popkin, B. M., Bray, G. A., Després, J. P., & Hu, F. B. (2010). Sugar-sweetened beverages, obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular disease risk. Circulation, 121(11), 1356-1364.

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2015). Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020.

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