November 22, 2016

Reducing Beverage Calories Across the Nation

In fall of 2014, we announced a public landmark agreement with the beverage industry that would result in critical steps our nation needs to take to reduce calorie and sugar intake. The country’s three largest soda manufacturers, The Coca-Cola Company, Dr Pepper Snapple Group and PepsiCo, committed to reduce the beverage calories consumed per person nationally by 20% by 2025.

This is an ambitious goal that will take a multitude of strategies and is imperative to helping curb obesity and improve health in the United States. Implementation of the agreement includes broad national efforts complemented with efforts at a community level, in places where health disparities are the greatest.


Our Work in Communities

While we seek to achieve a 20% reduction across the nation, it is essential that we also focus efforts within neighborhoods 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. Within this 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.

During the period of the agreement, families in 10 selected communities will see intensified activities to drive down purchase and consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages,  including 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 within other communities across the country. 


Our Neighborhoods for Change

To date, changes are being initiated in five communities:

Los Angeles
The neighborhoods of Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, El Sereno and East Los Angeles were the first communities to become engaged in this process on the west coast.
Little Rock
The neighborhoods of Downtown Little Rock, South Little Rock, Southwest Little Rock, and Midtown Little Rock were the first communities to become engaged in the south.
New York City
The neighborhoods of the South Bronx as well as Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights in Brooklyn were the first on the east coast.
Mississippi Delta
The counties of Coahoma, Panola, Quitman and Tunica are now becoming engaged with this effort.
Greater Montgomery Area 
Montgomery and Lowndes County are now becoming engaged in this effort.

To improve the health of our nation the Alliance believes there is a place for everyone at the table. Joining the public health field, the business sector, community institutions and leaders, store and restaurants owners, and families are all important partners.

The Alliance is working closely with the beverage industry to track and evaluate their work nationally and in these neighborhoods.


Why Caloric Intake & Why Beverages

Calories from beverages such as regular sodas and fruit drinks make up six percent of Americans’ daily caloric intake.

-    National Center for Health Statistics. 2011.

Why is the Alliance advocating that individuals moderate their beverage choices and choose bottled water, lower-calorie and no calorie options? Any nutritionally sound strategy that results in a meaningful reduction in Americans' daily caloric intake is a good deal, and a big deal for public health. This commitment will increase consumer access to beverage options that will help them to reduce their daily caloric intake and, when combined with other lifestyle changes, could lead to better weight management.

We base our nutrition recommendations on the latest findings of authoritative scientific reports such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and reports from American Heart Association scientific committees, or regulatory authorities like the USDA and FDA.  These authoritative reports allow for bottled water, lower-calorie and no calorie beverages, including beverages with artificial sweeteners, as a part of an adult diet.


Evaluating Our Impact

It is important the Alliance and the beverage industry evaluate the results of this work—both nationally and in each community.  All the efforts to decrease calorie consumption will be monitored by Keybridge LLC, a Washington-DC based economic and public policy consulting firm. Keybridge will track the progress and evaluate the results of the commitment using a range of metrics and data sources, including sales and retail merchandising data available from syndicated sources and company shipment data.