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Industry has worked to improve beverages offered in schools

soda can
With the help of schools across the country to implement industry guidelines, there are 90 percent fewer beverage calories in schools than there were in 2004.

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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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 04/12/2013 - 04:28 pm.

    Demand

    That’s a step in the right direction, but only a step. When you say things like “the beverage industry will continue to innovate and give consumers the choices that they demand” it simply sounds like you’re trying to wash your hands of the situation, doing only the minimal necessary to stave off government regulation.

    And when you say things like “over the years consumers have increasingly chosen lower-calorie beverage options without any help from the government” it sounds more like you’re just trying to save your hides. The cry goes out “please don’t regulate me, big bad government! Can’t you see the minimal effort we did over here?”

    The message this sends is that you’re really not interested in the health of your customers, but rather in the market share you can garner by getting your products into schools. Tim, if you want any shot at people like me swallowing your BS you have to come up with a more positive message just for starters. And preferably link that to more meaningful and in depth change than the program outlined above.

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/12/2013 - 08:59 pm.

    No help from the government?

    Please, this was all triggered by FDA and USDA guideline changes. Let’s not pretend all that pop ended up in the schools by magic in the first place.

    Furthermore the statistics upon which these claims are being made are dodgy. They come from a report issued by the beverage association itself: http://www.ameribev.org/files/240_School%20Beverage%20Guidelines%20Final%20Progress%20Report.pdf

    The report claims that 98% of High Schools are in compliance, however the number of High Schools actually examined is only around 10,000 High Schools (pp 6 table 3). There are 26,000 public High Schools in the US. This claim is based on an incomplete sample that’s a little more than 1/3 the total number of schools. The study fails to clarify that it’s talking about 98% of it SAMPLE, not 98% of the total number of schools. The clam being made then is simply not supported by the data. This study only looked at those schools which had contracts with certain bottling companies, and used the bottling companies data rather than school data of any kind. For all we know those schools are just selling pop via a different supplier. If you really wanted to find out how much pop the schools are buying and selling you’d look at school accounts. Furthermore we’re assuming that all the records for thousand of school contracts are being accurately captured and reported, again, without verifying what’s actually going on the schools themselves this may be a problematic assumption.

  3. Submitted by David Frenkel on 04/13/2013 - 11:16 am.

    spin

    The fact is sodas have no nutritional value and many are very acidic that among other things are bad for children’s teeth, ask any dentist about this. Children should be drinking liquids that have some nutritional value that are low in sugar, salt and fat such as white milk. Regardless of how we paint soda it is a bad choice for children and teaches them bad life lessons.

  4. Submitted by Chris Farmer-Lies on 04/15/2013 - 12:01 pm.

    If the beverage industry were really serious about combating obesity, they’d close up shop tomorrow. The parallels between your industry and the tobacco industry become clearer every day.

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