The American Beverage Association (ABA) has hit back at a letter asking the US surgeon general to look into the impact of sugary drinks on health.

Obesity is too complex a problem to blame on one cause, the ABA said today (20 July), adding that any government-funded study will not bring “meaningful solutions”. Yesterday, a US cancer group sent a letter to health secretary Kathleen Sebelius demanding a national plan of action on soda's effect on obesity levels.

“Soda and other sugary drinks are the only food or beverage that has been directly linked to obesity, a major contributor to coronary heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, and some cancers, and a cause of psychosocial problems,” the letter said.

“Yet, each year, the average American drinks about 40 gallons of sugary drinks, all with little, if any, nutritional benefit.” 

However, the ABA disputed the letter's claims, saying numerous studies found that soft drinks are a small and declining source of calories in the average American's diet.

“If calories and added sugars consumed from beverages are going down and obesity is going up, soft drinks are not to blame for the obesity epidemic,” it said. "The math just doesn't work.”