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.

Soft Drink Industry Takes a Leadership Role to Combat Childhood Obesity

© 2017 |The Michigan Soft Drink Association

Healthy Caloric Intake

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:

  • Model School Beverage Guidelines developed by the Alliance for A Healthier Generation (American Heart Association and the William Clinton Foundation) were voluntarily implemented by our companies in the schools (2007 – 2010), both statewide and nationwide.  The outcome is impressive:
    • The Guidelines removed student access to all full calorie soft drinks during the school day as well as at after school education related functions.
    • As a result, the total number of calories we deliver to schools has been reduced by 90 percent since 2004.

  • In 2006, our soft drink companies joined as charter participants in the “Children Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative,” under the supervision of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB).  This initiative voluntarily restricts the advertising of food and beverages to children below 12 years of age.  As a result, and among other things, you do not see advertising for soft drinks on children’s television programming.

  • In 2010, Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper/7UP, and Pepsi-Cola, in concert with the American Beverage Association, became charter members in the new federal Clear on Calories Initiative.  Working with the FDA, the companies produced a whole new packaging design strategy to more clearly and boldly highlight caloric information on not only the front of beverage containers but also on vending and fountain machines. 

  • Our low-calorie and no-calorie alternative sodas, waters, isotonics, juices and teas are now a staple in the refreshment beverage market.  This product diversification, along with our other initiatives, has produced significant results.  Even with increased overall sales, our companies now deliver 21% fewer calories to the entire U.S. marketplace than 10 years ago, and the lowest levels of calories consumed from soft drinks since 1985!