There’s good news on the obesity front. The New York Times reports that after decades of sharp increases in obesity, Americans’ eating habits have begun changing for the better.
The game-changer? Education. Turns out the message about balancing diet and limiting calories is working, says the Times.
Calories consumed daily by the typical American adult, which peaked around 2003, are in the midst of their first sustained decline since federal statistics began to track the subject more than 40 years ago, says the Times. The number of calories that the average American child takes in daily has fallen even more — by at least 9 percent.
The story points out that Americans shifted to more lower-calorie items, and that includes beverages. The Times highlights the role that clear calorie information on foods and menus may play in the attitude shift among Americans.
The beverage industry wholeheartedly supports educating consumers about balance. Our members companies have been leading the way on being transparent on calories so consumers can make the choices that are right for them.
The American Beverage Association introduced the Calories Count™ Beverage Vending Program so consumers can see the calories for any selection. We’ve placed signs on machines encouraging people to try a lower-calorie beverage. Our Clear on Calories initiative put calorie labels on the front of every can, bottle and pack we produce. We joined First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Drink Up” campaign to encourage Americans to drink more water.
Our Balance Calories Initiative is educating consumers in a number of ways to increase interest and access to reduced calorie beverage choices. The goal is to reduce beverage calories consumed per person nationally by 20 percent by 2025. Our Mixify program, a nationwide consumer engagement and awareness program, seeks to educate teens about the importance of balancing what you eat and drink with what you do. We are placing calorie information on more than 3 million fountains, coolers and vending machines nationwide. Our School Beverage Guidelines cut beverage calories shipped to schools by 90 percent.
Consumers oppose restrictions on their choices for beverages and we hear them. We also heard them when they said they want more options and information to help them achieve balance in their lives. We’re delivering by providing clear and accurate information on all of our beverages. We’re also investing in new products with fewer calories and smaller portion sizes.
“A lot of the changes we are seeing are consumer-driven,” John Sicher, Beverage Digest’s publisher, pointed out to the Times.
We’re proud to be part of the solution to the obesity challenge in America. Beverage companies will continue to work with consumers, elected leaders and civic-minded health groups like the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to make meaningful change in peoples’ lives that protects freedom of choice.