News Releases & Statements
Beverage Industry Responds to American Medical Association Action on Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes
In response to a report approved today by the American Medical Association (AMA) which states that local, state and federal governments could use taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages to fund anti-obesity education programs, the American Beverage Association issued the following statement:
“The intention of the American Medical Association to seek ways to help reduce overweight and obesity in America is an admirable goal that our industry fully supports. However, funding anti-obesity programs through discriminatory taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages is misguided. Even the AMA’s report acknowledges that sugar-sweetened beverage taxes alone are ‘unlikely to significantly impact the prevalence of obesity and other adverse outcomes.’
To be clear, the AMA’s report is not calling for taxes on soda as a solution to obesity. The body of science proves, and real world evidence demonstrates, that taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages will not have a meaningful impact on obesity. History also shows that revenues from existing soda taxes are not being used to improve public health. Americans can't trust that new taxes would be used any differently. We are committed to working with key stakeholders on comprehensive approaches that will have a lasting and meaningful impact on obesity.”
Additional Background Information:
On Taxing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages:
- Taxing sugar-sweetened beverages will not reduce obesity, nor will it have a truly meaningful impact on obesity-related health conditions such as diabetes, coronary disease or metabolic syndrome.
- Importantly, a wide range of factors contribute to these health conditions and singling out one ingredient – or one set of products - in such an overly simplistic manner only undermines efforts to combat these diseases.
- A review by George Mason University researchers showed that a 20 percent tax on soda would reduce an obese person’s Body Mass Index from 40 to 39.98 – an amount not even measurable on a bathroom scale.
- And, West Virginia and Arkansas are two states with an excise tax on soft drinks, yet both states rank among the 10 states with the highest obesity rates in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Obesity:
- Singling out sugar-sweetened beverages as the “single best thing to do for weight loss” is misleading and ignores government data. Calories from sugar-sweetened beverages—including soft drinks, juice drinks, flavored waters and other beverages—make up only 7 percent of calories, on average, in the American diet, according to a National Cancer Institute analysis of government data submitted to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. That means that 93 percent of calories come from other sources.
- Since 1998, the average calories per serving from beverages decreased 23 percent due in part to the innovation of more low- and zero-calorie beverages.
- Added sugars consumed from soda decreased 39 percent since 2000, per CDC data.
- From 1999-2010, full-calorie soda sales have declined 12.5 percent.
- Yet, obesity rates continued to rise over the same time period.
On Industry’s Efforts to be Part of Meaningful Solutions:
- America’s beverage companies are delivering more choices, smaller portions, fewer calories and clearer labels across the country. By doing so, our companies are making a meaningful difference for families and individuals in our communities – making it easier to choose the drink that’s right for them.
Clear Calorie Labels:
- America’s beverage companies are delivering on their Clear on Calories commitment to place clear calorie labels on the front of every bottle, can and pack they produce.
- We are placing total calories on the front of all bottles and cans up to and including 20 ounces to help consumers choose the beverage that’s right for them and their families. For packaging larger than 20 ounces, the labels provide calories per serving.
- The calorie labels put this information right at the fingertips of consumers so they can make a choice that’s right for them.
- The beverage industry announced the Clear on Calories initiative in support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign.
Beverages in Schools:
- We recognize that schools are unique places where parents want greater control over what their children eat and drink when they’re not around. That’s why we successfully implemented national School Beverage Guidelines.
- The guidelines removed full-calorie soft drinks from all schools and replaced them with more lower-calorie, smaller-portion options. Under the voluntary Guidelines, only juice, low-fat milk and water are allowed in elementary and middle schools, with the addition of lower-calorie and portion-controlled beverages in high schools.
- Through the guidelines, the signatory companies drove an 88 percent reduction in beverage calories shipped to schools since 2004.
- Through innovation, our companies have broadened their product portfolio, offering beverages in a wide variety of type, portion size and calories. These innovations are evident on store shelves and in vending machines throughout our communities.
- The broad choices in beverage type include soft drinks, ready-to-drink teas, water, sports drinks, flavored and enhanced waters, juices, energy drinks and more.
- The new choices include an ever-increasing selection of low- and no-calorie beverage choices, as well as mid-calorie beverages. The innovation pipeline continues as our companies remain engaged in developing even more beverage options to fit the ways people live.
- Delivering a range of portion sizes is another way to help individuals and parents choose beverages that are right for them and their families. Soft drinks and other beverages packaged for individuals are now available in portion sizes ranging from 20-ounce bottles to 7.5-ounce cans, with several options in between.
- Through its School Beverage Guidelines, the beverage industry voluntarily reduced juice portion sizes in K-12 schools and capped portion sizes on sports drinks, which are only offered in high schools, to 12 ounces. The range of portion sizes for beverages – including more smaller-portion options – provide for even more choice.
- Through innovation and initiative, America’s beverage companies are cutting calories in stores and in schools across the country.
- In the marketplace, the development of more low- and no-calorie beverages has helped drive a 23 percent reduction in the average calories per serving since 1998, according to Beverage Marketing Corporation, a leading analyst of industry sales data.
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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. For more information on ABA, please visit the association’s Web site at www.ameribev.org or call the ABA communications team at (202) 463-6770.