Yesterday, the American Heart Association released a scientific statement on added sugars, recommending a maximum daily limit of calories consumed from all sugars. This is no surprise in light of the upcoming revision of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a document that allows government agencies to “speak” in a unified voice when it comes to nutrition.
Our industry appreciates AHA’s efforts to help educate Americans about overall health. In fact, that’s why we developed School Beverage Guidelines. These calorie-based guidelines are part of a broader effort to teach our children about the importance of living a balanced lifestyle. We recognize that schools are unique environments where parents want a little more control over the food and beverage options available to their kids. That’s why the guidelines remove full-calorie soft drinks from all schools and provide more lower-calorie, nutritious, smaller-portion options.
After all, what it all comes down to is calorie balance – that is, balancing the calories you eat with the calories you burn off. So as we think about ways to encourage Americans to live balanced lifestyles, the focus needs to come back to calories.
Now, there is no doubt that regular soft drinks, like most foods, are a source of calories. But, despite the suggestion of some critics, they are not the #1 source of calories in the American diet. In fact, according to an analysis of the food supply by the National Cancer Institute, the combined category of sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks and sweetened waters contribute only about 5.5 percent of the calories in the American diet. What does that mean? That 95 percent of total calories come from other foods and beverages.
We also know that soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages are not a unique risk factor for obesity or other negative health outcomes. So, at the end of the day, you can be a healthy person and enjoy soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages in moderation. What matters most is balancing the calories from the foods and beverages we eat and drink with regular physical activity. These are the keys to living a balanced, healthy lifestyle – something our industry fully supports. We encourage consumers to make appropriate choices by providing easy access to calorie and nutrition information; we promote –and – support physical activity initiatives; and we’re constantly innovating to meet consumer demand. So whatever your preference – from full-calorie to no- and low-calorie – we’ve got something to keep you hydrated.