The recent Community Voices commentary “It’s time for healthier snacks and beverages in our schools” used a dated assumption about which beverages are available in schools.
We agree that obesity and related illnesses are a serious issue facing children today. That is why, working with former President Bill Clinton and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the beverage industry made a promise to parents that we would change the beverages offered in schools. Together, we delivered on our promise with the National School Beverage Guidelines, which removed full-calorie sodas from schools nationwide and replaced them with a range of lower-calorie and smaller-portion choices.
With the help of schools across the country to implement these guidelines, there are 90 percent fewer beverage calories in schools than there were in 2004. This was a voluntary, pro-active initiative of the beverage industry.
The National School Beverage Guidelines are just one example of how our industry is doing our part to play a role in meaningful solutions to combat obesity. The beverage industry has other initiatives to help consumers make the right choice for them.
Calorie counts prominently placed
Our Clear on Calories initiative placed the calorie count prominently on the front of the label of all of our beverages up to 20 ounces. The beverage industry introduced the Clear on Calories initiative in support of first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign.
The Calories Count™ Vending Program that the beverage industry is rolling out is designed to provide easier access to calorie information on vending machines, making it easier for consumers to choose drinks that are right for them and their families. The vending machines will display a “Calories Count™” vending logo on the front to remind consumers to consider calories before choosing their beverage. We will also add calorie labels to the selection buttons on our vending machines.
The beverage industry has been helping consumers through innovation, providing new choices which include an ever-increasing selection of low- and no-calorie beverage choices, as well as mid-calorie beverages. Over the years consumers have increasingly chosen lower-calorie beverage options without any help from the government. The beverage industry will continue to innovate and give consumers the choices that they demand.
Tim Wilkin is the president of the Minnesota Beverage Association.
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