You might have read a recent Reuters article reporting that in 2008 Americans consumed far less added sugars than they did nine years earlier, “largely due to a decrease in the amount of sugar-sweetened soda that people drank.” This is no surprise to those of us at Sip & Savor – we’ve been saying for quite some time that sales of regular soda have declined, due in part to industry’s innovation in bringing more no-and low-calorie beverage options to market. Yet despite this decrease in added sugars intake – and consumption of regular soft drinks - obesity rates have continued to climb during the same time period. It’s becoming increasingly clear that soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages are not driving obesity in the U.S.
In fact, the total amount of beverage calories that our member companies have brought to market decreased by 21 percent from 1998 to2008, according to Beverage Marketing Corporation data. And on top of that, sales of regular soft drink have declined by 12 percent from 2000 to 2009, according to Beverage Digest.
Moreover, with our national School Beverage Guidelines, we have removed full-calorie soft drinks from all schools and replaced them with more lower-calorie, smaller-portion beverage options. As a result, there has been an 88 percent reduction in calories from beverages shipped to schools since 2004.
It’s also important to put calories in context. According to government data, all sugar-sweetened beverages (soft drinks, juice drinks, sports drinks, flavored waters, etc.) account for only 7 percent of the calories in the average American’s diet. That means Americans get 93 percent of their calories from other foods and beverages.
While we are such a small piece of the diet, some assign us 100 percent of the blame for the very complex and serious issue of obesity. This is just more proof that sugar-sweetened beverages are playing a small and declining role in the American diet.