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May 18, 2015

Alliance for a Healthier Generation and America’s Beverage Companies Start Work In Little Rock Neighborhoods As Part Of Community Initiative To Help Reduce Beverage Calories Consumed

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – The Alliance for a Healthier Generation and America’s beverage companies announced today that work will begin in four Little Rock communities on a highly focused initiative to help reduce calories consumed from beverages in neighborhoods where there has been less interest in or access to lower-calorie and smaller-portion beverages.

The community initiative is a component of the national program developed last fall by the Alliance, The Coca-Cola Company, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, PepsiCo and the American Beverage Association. The program aim is to reduce beverage calories consumed by 20 percent per person nationally by 2025.

The areas that are part of the community initiative, announced in partnership with community leaders and organizations, are Downtown (zip code 72202), South Little Rock, (72206), Southwest Little Rock, (72209), and Midtown Little Rock, (72204). Little Rock and Los Angeles were the first two cities announced in the community effort. Ultimately, 10 cities will be part of the community initiative.

The beverage companies will utilize a range of marketplace activities in these Little Rock neighborhoods in an effort to help people reduce their calories: such as making lower-calorie and smaller-portion beverages more available in stores, providing incentives for consumers to try these options and displaying new calorie awareness messages at points of sale. These activities will allow companies to test and learn in order to develop the best practices that can be implemented elsewhere.

“Our companies are going to work in a very focused, deliberate manner with these communities to create interest in beverage options that can help them cut their calories,” said Susan Neely, president and CEO of the American Beverage Association. “This begins by offering more no- and low-calorie as well as smaller-portion choices, but also finding innovative ways to encourage consumers to try these products.

“We are going to test and learn so we can truly transform the beverage landscape through solutions that work.”

Importantly, the companies and the Alliance are engaging with community leaders to better understand the challenges in their neighborhoods as well as ascertain any ideas and support they might have for achieving the goal.

The landmark agreement between the Alliance, founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation, and the beverage companies, calls for an independent, third-party evaluator to track progress toward the goal of reducing beverage calorie consumed per person by 20 percent by 2025.

Nationwide, the companies made a commitment to work toward this goal by leveraging their marketing, innovation and distribution strengths to increase and sustain consumer interest in and access to beverage options that will help consumers reduce calories consumed.

This national effort includes a “Community Initiative” that calls for a focused, aggressive, multi-pronged approach in neighborhoods within select cities where for a variety of reasons there has been less consumer interest in – and thus less access to – bottled water, lower-calorie and smaller-portion beverage choices. It’s this targeted work that will now get started in Little Rock and Los Angeles.

The Alliance, which empowers kids to develop lifelong, healthy habits, described this goal as a “strong commitment” to help people reduce calories. The Alliance worked with beverage companies to establish the Alliance School Beverage Guidelines, which have resulted in a 90 percent reduction in beverage calories shipped to schools nationwide.

“Reducing the number of calories consumed from beverages is critical to helping curb obesity and improve health in the United States,” said Dr. Howell Wechsler, CEO of the Alliance. “We applaud the beverage industry for focusing on these community interventions and will work closely with them to track and evaluate the impact of this work.”

Within the community initiative, the companies will work to bring a range of tailored tools to bear within these neighborhoods, marrying their strengths in marketing, innovation and distribution with insights from community leaders to overcome barriers to consumption of lower-calorie and smaller-portion beverage choices.

People in these neighborhoods will see more marketing of no- and low-calorie options in stores and restaurants, smaller portion sizes such as mini-cans, and new calorie awareness information on coolers, vending machines and fountain equipment. They may also see companies utilize tools like taste tests and sampling programs, coupons and other incentives, and in-store displays featuring lower-calorie products.

Each company will implement its own strategy and review what engages the consumer, as well as what doesn’t. These lessons will be used to improve the effectiveness of the initiative, with the best strategies being applied elsewhere in Little Rock as well as other cities where they might work. All of these efforts serve the common goal of reducing calories consumed from beverages in the American diet.

About the Alliance for a Healthier Generation

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation, empowers kids to develop lifelong, healthy habits. The Alliance works with schools, companies, community organizations, healthcare professionals and families to build healthier environments for millions of children. To learn more and join the movement, visit www.HealthierGeneration.org.

About the American Beverage Association

The American Beverage Association is the national trade organization representing the broad spectrum of companies that manufacture and distribute non-alcoholic beverages in the United States, including regular and diet soft drinks, bottled waters and water beverages, ready-to-drink teas, sports drinks, energy drinks, 100 percent juices and juice drinks. ABA and its member companies have a longstanding commitment to being part of the solution to obesity. For more information, please visit www.deliveringchoices.org and www.ameribev.org.