This afternoon in Sacramento, Calif., Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, and others will hold a hearing to discuss health care costs associated with obesity and diabetes. Unfortunately, part of the discussion will focus on the alleged role that sugar-sweetened beverages play in these two public health issues. We know that those who believe there is something unique about soft drinks also will likely try to advance the notion of taxing those products as a way to reduce obesity - an idea that we know will not work. After all, taxes don't make people healthier - education, balanced diet and exercise do that.
In fact, we hope that those in the hearing room today take note of what Bob Achermann of the California Nevada Soft Drink Association has to say about the facts on obesity and what the industry is doing to be part of the solution.
The beverage industry takes its commitment to being part of the solution to childhood obesity very seriously. The industry has already delivered on its commitment to change the beverage landscape in America's schools by removing full-calorie soft drinks and providing more lower-calorie, nutritious, smaller portion beverage options. With the School Beverage Guidelines, our companies have slashed beverage calories shipped to schools by 88 percent since 2004.
The beverage industry continues to step up to be part of the solution to obesity, reaching beyond America's schools. In support of First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let’s Move!" anti-obesity campaign, America's leading beverage companies have committed to clearly display the calories in all our beverages on the front of the can or bottle as well as on our vending and fountain machines. This means that within two years, every time consumers touch one of our beverages they will have the calorie information at their fingertips.
In turning back the tide on obesity, we encourage California's policymakers to look at comprehensive approaches that include government, industry, public health organizations and others working together to have a meaningful and lasting impact, rather than seeking soundbite solutions such as discriminatory taxes.