American Beverage Association

Sip & Savor - Recent Posts

The Beverage Industry: Encouraging Balance

Some legislators in Illinois are once again trying to pass a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.  But not all of the state’s lawmakers are in support of the proposal. Yesterday, Representative Don Moffitt, R-Ill., said that government regulations are not necessary in solving public health issues such as obesity and diabetes.

“We do need to address obesity and we do need to address diabetes, and I have a plan,” the Gilson Republican said to The Register Mail. “It’s called you put one foot in front of the other and you do that 10,000 times a day and keep your calories between 1500 and 2000, and you’ll have smaller government and solve those problems. We have the answer, we don’t need another government program to do it.”

We agree with Moffitt. The way to solve a complex issue like obesity is to teach people about the importance of balancing their calories, not restricting or taxing their choices through government regulations.  Soda consumption has been on the decline in recent years, while obesity rates continued to increase at the same time.  So how will targeting this one product make an impact?

It’s time for lawmakers to abandon these misguided policies and start working towards real and lasting solutions. That’s what the beverage industry is doing.  Just last year, America’s leading beverage companies set a goal to reduce beverage calories consumed per person by 20 percent by 2025.  With this groundbreaking initiative we are focused on bring consumers the information and options they need to achieve a balanced lifestyle.

Check out DeliveringChoices.org to learn more about our Balance Calories Initiative. And visit YourCartYourChoice.com to read more about why soda taxes are ineffective.


New Research Casts Doubt On Salt Guidelines

For decades, Americans have been bombarded with news that fat, cholesterol and salt were bad for them and can lead to health problems ranging from heart disease to obesity.  But in recent months, we’ve learned that what we’ve been told about fat and cholesterol is wrong.

But now, there’s recent science that say that the U.S. government’s recommendations when it comes to salt aren’t based on sound scientific evidence, and could actually pose a health risk to those who strictly follow them.

“There is no longer any valid basis for the current salt guidelines,” Andrew Mente, a professor at McMaster University in Ontario and one of the researchers on a study published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine, told the Washington Post.

“So why are we still scaring people about salt?” he says.

Suzanne Oparil, a former president of the American Heart Association and current professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, says, “The current [salt] guidelines are based on almost nothing…Some people really want to hang onto this belief system on salt. But they are ignoring the evidence.”

Confused?  You’re probably not the only ones.  The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) were wrong about fat, cholesterol and now salt.  When will the DGAC learn not to target one nutrient as the solution to solving America’s health challenges?

We at Sip & Savor believe that all dietary recommendations should be based on sound science.  For more facts, check out LetsClearItUp.org, which has a range of facts based on cited science from researchers and government authorities.


Warning Labels Don’t Make People Healthy

In New York, lawmakers have introduced a proposal to place a warning label on sugar-sweetened beverages.  And California lawmakers have also introduced a similar bill. We have said it before, these misguided policies will not make people healthy.

That point was reinforced this week by Maston Sansom of the Food Industry Alliance of New York State in his testimony against adding warning labels that would single out beverages for obesity – even though thousands of products contain more calories than soda, juice and teas.

“It’s such a complicated issue, there needs to be more focus on education as opposed to just singling out this one product,” Sansom was quoted in an article by the Associated Press.

He’s right.  Warning labels that demonize one product or one ingredient will not help reduce obesity rates. In fact, calories from beverages have been on the decline for years due in part to industry’s innovation in providing more low- and no-calorie beverages, while at the same time obesity rates increased. Clearly then, soda cannot be the driver of obesity in America.

If lawmakers want to get serious about solutions to this complex public health issue it starts with educating consumers about balancing their food and beverage calories with physical activity.

Beverage companies are doing their part by helping to educate Americans by providing choices and information. The Coca-Cola Company, Dr Pepper Snapple Group and PepsiCo have joined in the Balance Calories Initiative to set a goal of reducing beverage calories consumed per person nationally by 20 percent by 2025. Through this initiative we are providing people with choices, information support and motivation to make the decision that is right for them.

To learn more about why warning labels are not effective visit YourCartYourChoice.com.


Simplifying Nutrition Isn’t So Simple

Are some studies on nutrition by researchers wrongly biased against some foods and beverages?

Yes, says a professor in nutrition and a professor in biostatistics – both at the University of Alabama.

Mark Cope and David Allison wrote recently in a commentary in the International Journal of Obesity that in their research they have found a tendency by the public health community to distort research about certain products or ingredients regardless of the science.

Why would public health officials and researchers do this? When the distortions are perceived “in the service of what may be perceived as righteous ends” say Cope and Allison, who have labeled the phenomenon “white hat bias.”

We at Sip & Savor have noted such bias in the recommendations made in the past by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which serves as the basis for federal advice on nutrition advice. We now know that the Committee made erroneous and perhaps harmful recommendations on fat and cholesterol. Worse, the Committee made its decisions despite science and research known at the time that contradicted its recommendations.

Today, the public health community has a habit of oversimplifying nutrition science. They divide foods into “good” and “bad” categories, again ignoring science that says the key to a balanced lifestyle is not demonizing a single nutrient or product but balancing one’s calories among all the foods and beverages we enjoy with those we burn through physical activity and exercise.

Everything in moderation, as the saying goes. Which means that yes, soft drinks can certainly be part of a balanced lifestyle.

The problem with simplifying nutrition science – which may be well-intentioned but wrongheaded – is that biased recommendations made on “bad” or low-quality science can do more harm than good. Cope and Allison found this to be the case in scientific papers they examined in which the researcher reached biased conclusions on the causes of obesity.

“Clinicians, media, public health policy makers… should be cognizant of such biases” and view the literature (on obesity) “more critically,” they wrote.

They are not the only ones to spot improper reporting of research.

Paul F. Campos, professor of law at the University of Colorado, published an essay in Wake Forest Journal of Law and Policy on the bias in literature in public health policy periodicals promoting the taxing and regulating of “bad” foods.

“The relationship between food, eating, and health is extraordinarily complex, and remains in many ways little-understood,” he writes.

“Confirmation, causal, and optimism biases all tend to obscure the complexity of this relationship — but we should not allow such cognitive distortions to cause us to underestimate the extent to which trying to legislate what Americans do and do not eat is likely to prove futile at best, and positively damaging at worst.”

The next time you come across an article or blog post that states taxes and regulation can solve the challenge of obesity in America, take a closer look at what that conclusion is based upon. Search for the facts in the original study and check to see if there is solid science that contradicts – or supports – what the writer claims.

Feel free to check out LetsClearItUp.org, which has a range of facts based on cited science from researchers and government authorities.


Soda Taxes Are Not A Solution

Over the past few years, several cities and states have proposed taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages.  This year is no different: Connecticut and Vermont have introduced tax bills that would raise the price of beverages as much as 50 percent in one case.

Lawmakers who propose these taxes keep ignoring that voters continue to send the message year after year that they do not want their shopping bills to go up or the government telling them what they should put in their grocery carts.

It’s no secret that these taxes are unpopular with the general public: more than 30 proposed soda taxes have failed in recent years. So why do politicians keep trying? Some say it’s to lower obesity rates. But it appears these taxes are more about demonizing one product to avoid budget cuts rather than helping reduce obesity.

A tax will not help make people healthy.  Real and lasting solutions start by providing people with the information and options they need to achieve a balanced lifestyle.  That is why just last year America’s leading beverage companies set a goal to reduce beverage calories consumed per person nationally by 20 percent by 2025 through our Balance Calories initiative.

To learn more about why taxing soda is not the answer to complex issues like obesity visit YourCartYourChoice.com.


Myth Buster – Are Low-Calorie Sweeteners Safe?

We are more connected than ever.  The Internet provides us with many facts, but bombards us too with pseudo facts and urban myths posing as good information.  Trying to figure out what you need to know and what you can ignore can be exhausting and confusing.  One common urban myth that circulates online is that low-calorie sweeteners are unsafe.

Contrary to what is sometimes seen on blogs, low-calorie sweeteners are completely safe.  They have been repeatedly deemed safe by the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and have not been shown to cause cancer or any other disease in people.

In fact, even the National Cancer Institute states that “there is no clear evidence that the artificial sweeteners available commercially in the United States are associated with cancer risk in humans.”

Remember that facts are based in science – but claims on the Internet often are not.  There’s little chance that bloggers and so-called health writers would be penalized for spreading myths and rumors.  So if you have questions on low-calorie sweeteners, check out this article on About.com.  In it, Hope Warshaw, certified diabetes educator and expert, answers questions on the safety and benefits of low- and no-calorie sweeteners.  And visit LetsClearItUp.org for more facts on low-calorie sweeteners and other topics.


In L.A.: A Failed Attempt To Regulate

Recently, there have been many proposals by the government to regulate the food and beverage choices that people make.  Here at Sip & Savor we have said it before: government regulations won’t make people healthier.

Just look at an effort in Los Angeles to limit the number of fast food restaurants in low-income neighborhoods as a way to improve public health. A city ordinance in 2008 called for a ban on new stand-alone “fast-food” restaurants in low-income neighborhoods where obesity rates were high. The government’s theory was that people would turn to lower-calorie foods if it was less convenient to choose higher-calorie foods.

The result? Obesity rates went up.

A recent editorial by The Fresno Bee notes that according to a study by the RAND Corporation funded by the National Institutes of Health, “Researchers found that rates of obesity and being overweight increased citywide after 2008, and the increases were significantly higher in the communities targeted by the fast-food ordinance.”

Why? The reality is that obesity is a complex issue with many contributing factors and there is no simple solution. In the case of L.A., the Bee stated that, “people eat fast food because it is convenient and relatively cheap”, especially low-income families on a budget and leading busy lives. To lose weight, people must balance their calories with their activity, said the Bee.

So why then are food activists and government trying to regulate behavior instead of educating people about balancing their calories to achieve a healthy lifestyle?

Whether proposing taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages or limiting what people can buy with their SNAP benefits, politicians need to realize that regulation will not solve the public health challenge of obesity. In some cases, like we saw in Los Angeles, they may only make things worse.

“Personal initiative trumps government intervention,” says the Bee.

Right. Our industry recognizes this and that’s why we are committed to providing consumers with the information and options they need to achieve a balanced lifestyle by themselves.

To learn more about why government regulations won’t make people healthy check out YourCartYourChoice.com.


Experts In Europe Call For Better Nutritional Science

What does “evidence-based” mean in the scientific community? It usually implies that a recommendation or finding is based on an unbiased, transparent process using the best clinical research available.

Yet many recommendations made lately by the public health community on diet and nutrition do not live up to this standard and it shows.

Just this year we’ve learned of the poor nutrition recommendations on cholesterol and fat by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, whose findings are the basis for federal nutrition advice.  We now know the reason we were given bad advice is because the DGAC’s research was agenda-driven and not based on the totality of sound science.

We at Sip & Savor believe in science-based nutrition advice. That means recommendations based on the weight of scientific evidence while also providing real world guidance that is achievable.

We are not the only ones.  In a recent conference, held in Florence by the Italian National Association of Hospital Cardiologists, leading international experts in nutrition and medical research, criticized the lack of quality in nutritional science.

The issue of fat is a particular example, as fat was often demonized in the past and its correct use has been redeemed only after 40 years of media terrorism,“ said Michele Gulizia, national president of the Italian National Association of Hospital Cardiologists and the director of the Cardiology Division of the Garibaldi-Nesima hospital in Catania, Italy.

“Disinformation about food also concerns carbohydrates, proteins and those weight-reduction diets which exclude some types of nutrients entirely or single elements even in such cases where they are not supported by any medical evidence,” Gulizia said. “This kind of news sometimes has an impact on the nutritional choices of some layers of the population.”

“Free” sugar is the latest to be demonized without sound science. Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended adults and children reduce their intake of “free” sugar (sugar added to a product) to less than 10 percent of their daily energy intake. WHO also “conditionally” recommended a further reduction in sugar intake to less than 5 percent of daily energy intake.

These recommendations were made despite the poor scientific quality used by the researchers selected by WHO to conduct the evidence review.  In fact, a study was published in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology which highlighted that the recommendations issued by the WHO are often based on studies that are little to very little reliable.  The researchers of the study had examined all the WHO guidelines published between 2007 and 2012 and revealed that 289 out of 456 recommendations (more than 55 perfect) classified as ‘strong’ are based on low-quality to very-low-quality studies.

As Professor Carlo La Vecchia from the University of Milan pointed out: “Nowadays, the focus shouldn’t be on the total amount of nutrients but the overall composition and quality of the diet.”

We agree.  There are no “good” or “bad” foods.  Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle comes down to balancing all of the calories we consume daily with calories burned. Claiming otherwise will not make anyone healthier.

Please visit DeliveringChoices.org to see how our companies empower people and communities to find their balance by providing choice and meaningful information on our nutrients.


More Regulations Instead Of Solutions

Here at Sip & Savor we believe everyone has the right to make the food and beverage choices that are right for them.  Just because a family needs some help to afford groceries does not mean they can be forced to surrender that right.

Lately there’s been talk about limiting what people can buy with their SNAP benefits, commonly known as food stamps, to improve public health and save money. We know that dietary health is all about finding your balance – which doesn’t happen by imposing taxes or bans on individual products.  Government regulations of what you can or cannot put in your grocery cart is not an effective solution to the challenge of obesity and diabetes.

This past week we came across another article in the Washington Post about a proposal from a Missouri legislator to limit what people can buy with their food. The proposed bill would prohibit families with food stamps from buying things like cookies, chips, energy drinks, soft drinks, seafood or steak.

So what’s the rationale?  Apparently some lawmakers want to prevent people whose income is low from buying alleged “luxury” items like steak, and also make shopping decisions for them by banning ordinary grocery items that all Americans enjoy and can make part of a balanced diet.

“It just seems really repressive,” says Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University and author of the book Living on the Edge: The Realities of Welfare in America.

Rank notes that stories about people using food stamps on so-called luxury items are not the norm. He says the majority of people receiving SNAP benefits still struggle to provide food for their families and that limiting their choices in the grocery aisles is unfair.

“More than anything else, I think this is about controlling people,” he says.

We agree.  SNAP restrictions are just another example of misguided policy. Even if well-intentioned, telling people what they can or cannot eat will not make anyone healthier. We can make those decisions on our own.  Instead, the government should be focused on real and lasting solutions like providing people with the information they need to achieve a balanced lifestyle.

To learn more about keeping the government out of your grocery cart visit YourCartYourChoice.com.


An Insider’s Perspective On SNAP

There are a number of widely-held misconceptions about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as Food Stamps, and those who receive benefits from the program.  Despite SNAP’s critical role in fighting hunger in America, some in the public health community have unfairly claimed that the government program is subsidizing obesity and should place increased restrictions on what low-income individuals and families can buy with SNAP benefits.

We know these misguided efforts will not address the complex problem of obesity. In fact, they will only create more misconceptions and further stigmatize SNAP recipients.  In an article published in the Washington Post, Jeanine Grant Lister, a writer, mom and former SNAP recipient, speaks out against proposed legislation that attempts to control what foods and beverages can be purchased with SNAP benefits.  From Lister:

“I remember well when we did qualify for a monthly EBT deposit, a whopping $22 — and that was before Congress cut SNAP benefits in November 2013. Like 70 percent of people receiving SNAP benefits, I couldn’t feed my family on that amount. But I remember the comments from middle-class people, the assumptions about me and my disability and what the poor should and shouldn’t be spending money on.”

Lister further notes that:

“In America today, being poor is tantamount to a criminal offense, one that costs you a number of rights and untold dignities, including, apparently, the ability to determine what foods you can put on the dinner table.”

The bottom line is: it’s not the government’s job to grocery shop for our families; it’s ours.  Politicians should focus on what matters most – education, jobs and the economy.  We can decide for ourselves what to put in our shopping carts.

For more information on how to keep politicians out of your grocery cart, visit YourCartYourChoice.com.