American Beverage Association

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How Are You Balancing?

During the summer, it’s easier to be active and get energized by the fantastic weather and the great atmosphere created by friends and family. But as the second half of the summer approaches, we hope that you are able to maintain a balanced lifestyle in the midst of it all – and throughout the year.

For those who find it harder to juggle their busy schedules while trying to achieve a balanced and active lifestyle, we want to remind you that our member companies are doing their part to help you find the right balance that works for you. Working with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, America’s leading beverage companies are working towards a goal to reduce beverage calories consumed per person nationally by 20 percent by 2025. Through our Balance Calories Initiative, we will do this by increasing interest in and access to waters, no- and low-calorie beverages and smaller portions.

In order to achieve this goal, there are many ways in which we are promoting clear calorie information on every bottle, can and pack we produce. We are also placing calorie information on more than 3 million vending machines, self-serve fountains, and retail coolers. We hope that our efforts help you maintain your balance – and that it is easier than you might think to do so. But most importantly, enjoy the second half of the summer!

To learn more about how our industry is working together to help you balance, feel free to check out DeliveringChoices.org.


Overconsumption Of Anything (Even Water) Can Be Risky

Some recent articles have cautioned that people should be careful not to drink too much water when exercising. Drinking excessive water can cause a condition known as hyponatremia, or water intoxication, which can be fatal in extreme cases. Doctors advise that people listen to their body and only drink when thirsty.

These articles are a good reminder that anything – even water – can be harmful if overconsumed.

What you don’t see in response to these articles, is activists calling for new “water taxes” or a ban on large sizes of water. That would be ridiculous. Instead, health care professionals advise people to exercise their own good judgment and drink water in moderation. What a marked change from how these same activists approach other beverages such as soft drinks.

Singling out one category of products for special taxes or bans does nothing to promote a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Instead, that energy should be redirected to help educate people about the importance of a balanced diet, where even things like cupcakes and soft drinks can be enjoyed in moderation.


The Fat Debate

Ever since the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) dropped its decades-long warning on fat consumption, there has been an ongoing debate in the science community over whether we should stop targeting a single nutrient as “bad.”

Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, points out in his blog on LinkedIn that some of the most nutritious foods (walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds, avocado and salmon) can be high in fat. So, too, can be what many deem to be “healthful” diets, such as Mediterranean diets.

“Focusing just on fat, or any other nutrient, does not lead reliably to a wholesome, health-promoting diet,” he says.

Exactly. Nutrients, whether fat, sugar or salt, are essential to our bodies. The erroneous advice given by a previous DGAC, whose recommendations are the basis for the federal government’s dietary advice, prompted millions of Americans to avoid foods that we now know were not harmful, such as eggs, and gorge on others that potentially were.

Katz warns readers of the danger that the DGAC may repeat history and get its dietary recommendations wrong once again.

“Having gone badly wrong when first cutting fat, we had an opportunity to focus instead on food choice and dietary pattern. Instead, counter-claims of debate invited a sequential focus on one nutrient at a time that prevails to this day,” says Katz. “These repeated trials and disappointments have led only to a relative distrust of, if not disgust with, dietary guidance.”

It is the responsibility of the DGAC to provide easy-to-understand, real-world dietary guidance that is achievable. Claiming that one nutrient is “bad” is not backed up by science, and that attitude has led to poor outcomes for all Americans in the past. If the DGAC wants to regain our trust, it needs to base its advice on the totality of evidence on diet – not the loudest voices in the room.


Looking For A Way To Cut Calories?

New studies on low- and no-calorie sweeteners, and foods and beverages that contain them, seem to be published all the time. And they are often reported on in a way that makes things even more confusing. It can be hard to sift through all of the information out there to get to the truth. What you may not know so well is how beneficial – and safe – beverages with low- and no-calorie sweeteners can be.

In fact, these ingredients can be a useful tool for people who are trying to manage their weight, according to studies. Registered dietitian and diabetes educator Hope Warshaw recommends low- and no- calorie beverages as a good alternative to water, according to this article in the Washington Post.

Not only do they provide benefit, they have also repeatedly been deemed safe by various organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

So next time you feel thirsty – or you want something sweet, a low- or no-calorie beverage is a perfectly fine option. Just remember that the science is clear – they are perfectly fine to drink and can help you manage your weight. More questions?  You can always check out LetsClearItUp.org for more information on the science behind our industry’s beverages and their ingredients.


The Alabama Beverage Tax Is Discriminatory And Will Hurt Business

It seems like for every budget problem politicians face these days they propose a tax to fix it. Over the past several years, more than 30 states and cities across the country have proposed or introduced beverage taxes. All have failed except for one in Berkeley, Calif., a very pro-tax city.

Recently in Alabama the governor floated the idea of a beverage tax of five cents per 12 ounces or one to two cents per ounce.  A tax like the one proposed by Gov. Robert Bentley will raise grocery bills and have an enormous negative effect on the local economy according to Matthew Dent, president and chief operating officer of Buffalo Rock Company, which employs 2,100 people.

“It’s a job killer and would have an enormous trickle effect throughout our economy,” Dent told AL.com.

When will politicians learn that taxes on common grocery items are unpopular with the American public and are harmful to local businesses? More than 500 Alabama small businesses and more than 6,000 Alabama citizens have already joined the “Stop the Alabama Beverage Tax” coalition. They’re sending letters to their lawmakers telling them that the tax is a bad idea.

Politicians should focus on what matters most – education, jobs and the economy – and leave the grocery shopping to us.

To learn more about the Alabama beverage tax visit StoptheAlabamaBeverageTax.com.


Calories Down, Without Government Regulation

There’s good news on the obesity front. The New York Times reports that after decades of sharp increases in obesity, Americans’ eating habits have begun changing for the better.

The game-changer? Education. Turns out the message about balancing diet and limiting calories is working, says the Times.

Calories consumed daily by the typical American adult, which peaked around 2003, are in the midst of their first sustained decline since federal statistics began to track the subject more than 40 years ago, says the Times. The number of calories that the average American child takes in daily has fallen even more — by at least 9 percent.

The story points out that Americans shifted to more lower-calorie items, and that includes beverages. The Times highlights the role that clear calorie information on foods and menus may play in the attitude shift among Americans.

The beverage industry wholeheartedly supports educating consumers about balance. Our members companies have been leading the way on being transparent on calories so consumers can make the choices that are right for them.

The American Beverage Association introduced the Calories Count™ Beverage Vending Program so consumers can see the calories for any selection. We’ve placed signs on machines encouraging people to try a lower-calorie beverage. Our Clear on Calories initiative put calorie labels on the front of every can, bottle and pack we produce. We joined First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Drink Up” campaign to encourage Americans to drink more water.

Our Balance Calories Initiative is educating consumers in a number of ways to increase interest and access to reduced calorie beverage choices. The goal is to reduce beverage calories consumed per person nationally by 20 percent by 2025. Our Mixify program, a nationwide consumer engagement and awareness program, seeks to educate teens about the importance of balancing what you eat and drink with what you do. We are placing calorie information on more than 3 million fountains, coolers and vending machines nationwide. Our School Beverage Guidelines cut beverage calories shipped to schools by 90 percent.

Consumers oppose restrictions on their choices for beverages and we hear them. We also heard them when they said they want more options and information to help them achieve balance in their lives. We’re delivering by providing clear and accurate information on all of our beverages. We’re also investing in new products with fewer calories and smaller portion sizes.

“A lot of the changes we are seeing are consumer-driven,” John Sicher, Beverage Digest’s publisher, pointed out to the Times.

We’re proud to be part of the solution to the obesity challenge in America. Beverage companies will continue to work with consumers, elected leaders and civic-minded health groups like the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to make meaningful change in peoples’ lives that protects freedom of choice.


The Safe And Accurate Food Labeling Act: Providing Accurate Labeling For Americans

America’s beverage companies are strongly in favor of providing consumers with the accurate information they need when it comes to making decisions on nutrition and diet.

That’s why we applaud the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act,” which passed in the House of Representatives just last week.

“The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act requires that food labeling in the United States be consistent and based on sound science.  The bill increases coordination between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), giving our nation’s foremost experts the final authority on food safety and labeling policy.” The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) said in its statement supporting the bill.

And most importantly,The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act” requires that food labeling in the United States be consistent and based on sound science.

This information that sticks to the facts and doesn’t portray any one group or person’s biases is the kind of government regulation people need.

“The Safe and Accurate Labeling Act” is proof that when industry and government work together, we can achieve real and lasting solutions that keep Americans’ best interests in mind.

To read the BIO’s full statement click here.


Alabama’s Beverage Tax Proposal Is Regressive And Harmful

Alabamians are rising up against a beverage tax proposed by Gov. Robert Bentley as a way to fill a budget hole.

Nearly 300 Alabama small businesses and more than 4,000 Alabama citizens have joined the “Stop the Alabama Beverage Tax” coalition, which was only launched publicly last week.

Alabama is like anywhere else when it comes to soda taxes. Americans just don’t want taxes on common grocery items like beverages. A soda tax has been proposed in more than 30 cities and states and has failed in every instance except for Berkeley, Calif., a very pro-tax city.

Virginia Banister, executive director of the Alabama Beverage Association, told local Fox affiliate WBRC-TV that the tax would costs jobs, hurt small businesses and increase grocery bills.

“We haven’t seen the legislation,” said Banister. “It can vary from five cents per 12 ounces or one to two cents per ounce. We don’t know. This proposed beverage tax is regressive, discriminatory and hard on Alabama families and on their budgets.”

The bottom line is – a tax on beverages is not the answer to Alabama’s budget problems: it risks desperately-needed jobs, hurts small businesses that have existed for generations, and raises grocery bills on consumers at a time when many families are struggling. Have more questions about how Alabamians and small businesses are fighting the beverage tax? Visit StoptheAlabamaBeverageTax.com.


Taking A Closer Look At Recent Studies On Diabetes

Despite what you may read in frequent stories that come out in the media, sugar-sweetened beverages are not a unique driver of public health concerns such as obesity and diabetes.  Simply put, it is wrong to say beverages cause disease.

Recently, the British Medical Journal published a “study” claiming that our products “may give rise to” diabetes cases. This ambiguous wording used in a press release to promote the research makes it sound as if the study found something. It didn’t.

This can be put another way. “This study failed to show any cause and effect relationship between beverages and diabetes.” The authors of the study acknowledge that their own findings do not show that drinking beverages cause any type of chronic disease.

This study merely looked at other studies and drew a conclusion that drinking beverages “is associated” with some illnesses. As we have said in the past, association and causation are very different. An association is like saying umbrellas cause rain because one finds them wherever it is raining.

Here is the most important fact: According to leading health organizations, beverage consumption is not a known risk factor for type 2 diabetes. This study does not change that fact. Diabetes is caused by a variety of factors we cannot control including genetics, gender and age, and some that we can, such as diet.

That’s what the beverage industry is focused on. Through our Balance Calories Initiative we are providing people with the information and options they need to achieve balance through what they eat, drink and do.

To learn more about the science behind the safety of our products visit LetsClearItUp.org. And to read our full statement on the study from the British Medical Journal, click here.


Alabamians Say “No” To Beverage Tax

In the past few years, soda tax proposals have failed in more than 30 states and cities across the country. Poll after poll shows that these taxes are unpopular with voters.

Alabamians and local business are the latest to confront a possible attempt to force an unwanted soda tax on them. Like the rest of the American public, Alabamians don’t want legislators to tax common grocery items like beverages.

Raising taxes and grocery bills hurts consumers, especially low-income families. It harms small local businesses and costs jobs. Kenny Smith, owner of L&S Foodland in Ardmore, says in a press release that a beverage tax like the one proposed in Alabama would cost him both sales and customers since his store is only a mile from Tennessee.

“We operate on the state line. This tax will be detrimental to our business and our customers who will just travel to Tennessee to buy their groceries,” he wrote.

Local businesses are not alone. Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard thinks a beverage tax is nothing more than a money grab for government spending.

“Rather than just picking out and say we’ll do this because it can generate this amount of money… [a soda tax is] the wrong way to look at tax policy,” he said. “I don’t like picking winners and losers. I don’t think that’s what we need to be doing.”

Well said. Beverage taxes are just a bad policy.

Learn more about the people and small businesses who are fighting the Alabama beverage tax at StoptheAlabamaBeverageTax.com.