Obesity and obesity-related diseases are complex challenges driven by a variety of factors, including genetics, a lack of physical activity and the over consumption of calories from all sources. Conditions as complex as these require bold and meaningful solutions that look at the entire diet and consider all of the risk factors. There is no silver bullet or one-size-fits-all solution.
Yet some try and pin the blame for obesity on one source of calories – sugar-sweetened beverages – despite scientific evidence to the contrary.
Consider that sugar-sweetened beverages account for about 6 percent of calories in the average American diet. This means 94 percent of our calories come from other foods and beverages.
Moreover, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food is the number one source of added sugars in the American diet. Federal data also shows there is no connection between beverages and rising rates of obesity or obesity-related diseases like diabetes. The obesity rate in America went up steadily (24 percent) from 2000-2014 at the same time calories in the American diet from soda went down 39 percent.
How are we ever going to make a dent in obesity rates if we only focus on such a small source of calories?
To help reverse direction on obesity, our efforts would be better spent on educating people about over consumption from all sources of calories. We can work together and help people heighten their awareness about how to maintain balance in the diet.
The beverage industry is doing its part. America's leading beverage companies launched the Balance Calories Initiative in partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to reduce beverage calories in the American diet nationally by 20 percent per person by 2025.
We are providing consumers with more choices, smaller portion sizes and fewer calories than ever before so that they can make the choice that is best for them and their families.
We also worked with local school districts to remove full calorie soft drinks from all schools and replace them with lower calorie, smaller portion options. This has reduced beverage calories in schools by 90 percent.
A Band-Aid approach singling out one set of calories is not a solution to obesity. Not only is it ineffective, it distracts from serious solutions to this serious challenge.