The Michigan soft drink industry has been actively engaged in the efforts to address our state’s obesity concerns. Over the last several years, we have taken the initiative to develop and implement positive solutions without government mandates or prohibitions.
Not only has our industry been a leader in taking action to address childhood obesity, but these efforts have also produced demonstrable results that are making a positive difference:
Weight gain is a calories-in / calories-out equation (although, many are now using the term energy-in / energy-out as the preferred jargon). Americans are eating over five-hundred calories more per day than four decades ago but it is important to note that these added calories have not come from the consumption of soft drinks, which as noted above have actually declined significantly over the years.
Contrary to the myths created by headlines, soda and sports drinks do not constitute the number one source of calories consumed by our youth (HHS/USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010). There is no one particular food or food grouping that is the cause of obesity and proscriptive measures to ban or restrict certain foods have not been shown to be effective in reducing an individual’s overall caloric intake.
The portion of the average person’s caloric intake from added sugars has actually declined rather significantly over the years, while obesity has risen. In fact, calories in the American diet from added sugars in soda have declined by 39% since 2000. Indeed, even with increased overall sales, total calories delivered by our companies to the entire American marketplace has declined by 21% since 2000.
Impacting citizens in particular at a young age through education and helping them make prudent choices and decisions can be the most effective way to influence long term behavior. It's making a difference in Michigan: According to 2016 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 6% of Michigan high school students drink 3 or more servings of soft drinks a day, a 46% reduction in the last 8 years.
Meanwhile, physical activity has decreased. The same 2016 CDC data shows that 41% of Michigan high school students average 3 or more hours per day playing video games or on the internet on non-homework related activites, up from 23% just 6 years ago. Experts have stated the obesity issued should be tackled as a holistic approach, looking at diet, nutrition, and physical activity levels.
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.