While CSD consumption has fallen in the US, obesity levels have risen

While CSD consumption has fallen in the US, obesity levels have risen

The American Beverage Association has blamed a slide in the consumption of carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) in the US on the level of innovation in the industry and not solely because of consumer concern over rising obesity levels in the country.

A statement from the association yesterday (15 April) was issued in response to a claim by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) that the recognition that sugared CSDs contribute to weight gain and disease is “gaining traction”, leading to a steady decline in CSD consumption in the US.

Earlier this week, the CSPI, a long-time critic of the soft drinks industry, welcomed a decline in per capita consumption of CSDs in the US. The consumer advocacy organisation noted that per capita consumption of sugary soft drinks is currently 22% below its peak in 1998, according to figures from the trade publication Beverage Digest.

“The recognition that soda pop promotes weight gain and disease is gaining traction, contributing to the steady decline in soda consumption,” said CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson. “Ten years from now, it would be great to see that Americans are drinking a can and a half a week, instead of a can and a half a day.”

However, a spokesperson for the American Beverage Association said that, while many activists single out CSD consumption as a unique cause of obesity, rates have risen since 2000, while soft drinks sales have dropped annually since that time.

“That decline is largely due to industry’s innovation in broadening its portfolio of products, including more no- and low-calorie beverage options,” the spokesperson said. “According to Beverage Marketing Corporation data, since 1998 there has been a 21% reduction in beverage calories in the marketplace, as industry continues to produce more zero-calorie, low-calorie and reduced-portion products.”

The spokesperson said the data also showed that the US public is taking advantage of the lower-calorie options, which she said is the “key to maintaining a healthy weight”.

This year is likely to see continued pressure on soft drinks companies in areas such as sugar content, advertising and functional ingredients as the CSPI and numerous other advocacy groups voice their support for US states to implement or increase soda taxes where they already exist, in a bid to drive down consumption further.