Initiative results in 88% reduction in calories in school beverages

Initiative results in 88% reduction in calories in school beverages

Three major US beverage firms have claimed to have delivered on a three-year commitment with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to remove full-calorie soft drinks from schools across the country.

The American Beverage Association (ABA) today (9 March) released the Alliance School Beverage Guidelines Final Progress Report, confirming that the beverage industry's largest companies - The Coca-Cola Co, PepsiCo, Dr Pepper Snapple Group and their systems of local bottling companies that work directly with the school partners - have “transformed” the beverage landscape in schools across the US.

The commitment with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, has seen the replacement of full-calorie soft drinks in schools with lower-calorie, smaller-portion beverages.

As a result, the ABA said there has been an 88% reduction in calories from beverages shipped to schools since 2004.

"A critical component of the Alliance's national effort to end childhood obesity has been our work with the beverage industry to reduce the amount of calories our kids consume in schools," said former US president Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation. "We are encouraged by the significant progress we've made and look forward to continuing our work with participating schools, companies and the American Beverage Association."

The Alliance School Beverage Guidelines Progress Report marks the third and final assessment of the impact and status of the implementation of the guidelines.

ABA president and CEO Susan Neely added: "Our beverage companies have slashed calories in schools as full-calorie soft drinks have been removed. The beverages available to students are now lower-calorie, nutritious, smaller-portion choices."

Last month, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple, along with Nestle Waters North America and Sunny Delight, backed an initiative for clearer labelling in support of Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity drive for children. The firms pledged to coordinate with the Food and Drug Administration to implement an initiative that will see clearer calorie information printed on the front of products.