Dallas, Texas - American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following statement today on the Beverage Calories Initiative report from the American Beverage Association and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The American Heart Association, along with the Clinton Foundation, is a co-founder of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
“As a nation we still have tremendous work ahead of us to shift consumer preferences away from sugary drinks. The manufacturers’ commitment to drive down beverage calories was lauded by many and we are hopeful that they will still achieve their goals with the support of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
Today’s report illustrates that there is still significant progress that must be made, and that the beverage industry must continue their focus on reducing the total calories consumed from beverages. Although consumers are drinking more bottled water, the overall calories consumed from beverages has remained flat. Consumers are swapping out full-calorie soda for sports and energy drinks, sweetened teas and bottled coffee drinks that contain significant amounts of added sugar. These shifts are negating progress in overall calorie reduction. In order to fulfill their commitment to reduce calories from beverages by 20 percent by 2025, we call on the beverage industry to employ innovative beverage reformulation strategies and to reform their marketing practices targeting minority communities.
The report shows that when purchasing packaged beverages in a supermarket, consumers seem to be ready to make the change for healthier beverage choices. This is demonstrated by an increase in bottled water sales. Unfortunately, this change has not translated to fountain beverages. The American Heart Association stands firm in trying to shift the social norm to healthy beverage consumption. We support increasing taxes on sugary drinks as a consumer disincentive, making healthy drinks the default beverage in restaurant meals and other complementary policy approaches to drive down consumer demand for sugary drinks across all retail locations. We are already seeing convincing evidence of the effectiveness of these policies where sugary drink taxes drive up demand for water and decreased sales of sugary drinks, all while not hurting business.”