The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has launched yet another scare campaign that wrongly singles out soft drinks in a misguided attempt to combat obesity. Unfortunately for residents, it’s the wrong approach. The Health Department’s efforts are nothing less than contradictory given that soft drinks sales are declining, a point made in the news release announcing the campaign, even while obesity rates continue to climb. In fact, since 2000, soft drink sales have declined by nearly 12 percent largely due to industry’s innovations in no- and low-calorie beverage options.
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. 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 pick up one of our beverages they will have the calorie information at their fingertips. These are efforts that will have lasting and meaningful impact.