The Model School Beverage Guidelines developed by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation), and endorsed by our member companies and the American Beverage Association (ABA), have provided us with the ability to proudly say that our industry already has taken affirmative steps to remedy any real or perceived problem of soft drinks in schools.
The result of rolling out these Model Beverage Guidelines to schools throughout Michigan and nationwide has been truly impressive. The soft drink industry has accomplished in the last 5 years:
These are national statistics, and our companies in Michigan have done just as well or better.
In actuality, the cause of obesity is an imbalance between "calories consumed" and "calories burned." Our major brand soft drink companies have aggressively and successfully taken the steps to significantly reduce the "calories consumed" side of the equation. It is now time to work on the "calories burned" side of the equation through physical education and other active lifestyles at school and in our homes.
Even before the development of the Model School of Beverage Guidelines, students actually consumed very few full calorie soft drinks in the school setting (less than one 12-ounce full calorie soft drink, per student, per week). It is now, of course, virtually none. This is a wonderful example of how an industry has taken it upon itself to cooperatively find a voluntary industry solution to a perceived public problem, without the need for a government mandate.
While Michigan has made little progress in its national rankings for adult obesity (we are now the 5th highest among the states according to the 2012 F as in Fat Report), we have done respectably well when measured for children, rising from the 20th fattest in the nation in 2003, to now the 41st in the 2012 F as in Fat Report (better than 80 percent of other states in the nation).
If caloric intake by Americans from our soft drinks has been consistently declining over the last several years, while obesity has been rising, how can anyone point to the soft drink industry as the culprit for America's obesity epidemic? The facts just do not support the accusation!