Like almost all foods, sugar-sweetened beverages are a source of calories. But when it comes to weight gain, there is nothing unique about those calories, which account for only about 7 percent of the calories in the average American's diet according to a National Cancer Institute analysis of government data.
In response to "Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men," an article published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, the American Beverage Association issued the following statement:
"Like almost all foods, sugar-sweetened beverages are a source of calories. But when it comes to weight gain, there is nothing unique about those calories, which account for only about 7 percent of the calories in the average American's diet according to a National Cancer Institute analysis of government data. This means that 93 percent of calories are coming from other sources. Importantly, the authors of this study looked at only a few foods and beverages. Several were associated with more weight gain than sugar-sweetened beverages. In fact, even every day staples like meat and potatoes were called out as significant contributors to weight gain. In addition, they found that physical inactivity, such as television viewing, contributed substantially to weight gain over time. Thus, there are many reasons for weight gain, but consuming sugar-sweetened beverages alone is not the reason.
At the end of the day, you can live a healthful lifestyle and enjoy soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages in moderation. Furthermore, for consumers looking to reduce total calorie intake, our industry provides many no- and low-calorie beverage options, which research has shown can help people lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, something also reinforced in this article. This is a position supported by health organizations including the American Dietetic Association.
Importantly, our industry takes its role in being part of a comprehensive solution to reducing obesity very seriously. In support of First Lady Michelle Obama's ‘Let's Move!' campaign, America's leading beverage companies have come together in a voluntary commitment to put calorie information on the front of every bottle, can and pack they produce - and display the total calories per container on all beverages 20 fluid ounces or smaller. With the Clear on Calories initiative, the new, easy-to-understand calorie labels are designed to help consumers make the choice that is right for them and their families. These labels began appearing on some beverages last fall and are now in stores across the nation, and will appear on all brands and packages by early 2012 as committed.
This study clearly demonstrates that to maintain a healthy weight, what matters most is balancing calories consumed from all foods and beverages with those expended through physical activity."
The American Beverage Association is the trade association representing the broad spectrum of companies that manufacture and distribute non-alcoholic beverages in the United States.