Soft Drinks1

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group have committed to work together to cut the number of calories Americans consume in soda each year.  The proposal, introduced at the Clinton Global Initiative on Sept. 23, will reduce the number of calories Americans consumed per person in beverages by 20 percent over the next 10 years.

According to TheAssociated Press, this initiative stems from the country’s leading soda industries coming under fire, specifically concerning their role in increasing obesity rates in America. A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health(NIH) found that soda consumption has been identified as a major contribution to obesity and other health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure, particularly in children.

Another reason for the initiative is that sales of sugary drinks have been declining, as people become more health conscious. Diet drinks are now gaining more popularity in the ever-changing world where calorie counting has become the norm.

A New York Times article reported, “From 2000 to 2013, calories consumed through sugary drinks fell 12 percent, according to Beverage Digest, attributed to declining soda sales and increased consumption of water and low-calorie drinks.”

On an average day, Americans consume about 20 teaspoons of sugar a day, according to theAmerican Heart Association.  The Association also reported that the main sources of added sugars in American diets stem from sugar-sweetened beverages including soft drinks.

The companies will focus on marketing and distributing smaller cans and bottles of sugary drinks and zero- or low-calorie drinks. Each beverage company also committed to focusing their efforts on promoting and introducing the new smaller-packaged, lower-calorie products in communities where there is less awareness on the benefits of cutting calorie consumption. This will be done by providing incentives like coupons or taste testing programs in and out of retail stores.

Calorie counts as well as information on calorie awareness will be provided on places such as vending machines, fountain dispensers, retail coolers in convenience stores, and restaurants.

All three companies pledged to work with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to track their progress. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation is an organization founded through the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation that works to reduce childhood obesity and encourage eating healthy habits among children.

A statement released by the Alliance for Healthier Generationnoted its excitement to work with the three soda giants to assist in bringing to fruition the pledge of reducing calories in beverages across America.

Former President Bill Clinton also welcomed the news, noting that the initiative “can be a critical step in our ongoing fight against obesity.”

Maria Adebola

Special to the AFRO