The nation's leading beverage companies have come through on their three-year commitment to replace full-calorie soft drinks from schools across the country with smaller portion, lower calorie drinks.
That's according to a statement released by the American Beverage Association. The project, in cooperation with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation -- a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, has thus affected an 88% reduction in calories from beverages shipped to schools since 2004.
The ABA released the "Alliance School Beverage Guidelines Final Progress Report," which it says confirms that the Coca-Cola Company, 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 America. The report was prepared by Keybridge Research LLC, an independent firm that prepared the previous two progress reports.
"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 President Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation, who co-leads the Alliance with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and American Heart Association President Clyde Yancy.
"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 to give young people the options and opportunities they need to lead healthier lives."
"It's a brand new day in America's schools when it comes to beverages," said Susan Neely, ABA president and CEO. "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."
This Alliance School Beverage Guidelines Progress Report marks the third and final assessment of the impact and status of the implementation of the guidelines.
"Childhood obesity is a complex problem, and there is no one single solution. The core of the problem, however, is that many of our children and youth are consuming too many calories," said Dr. Clyde Yancy, president of the American Heart Association and medical director for Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.
"School is a unique environment where students make food and beverage choices with limited supervision and begin to set food preferences that last into adulthood. The Alliance School Beverage Guidelines are a tool for reducing students' access to calories during the school day and changing behaviors that may lead to a lifelong improvement in caloric consumption."
Under the voluntary guidelines, 100% juice, low-fat milk and bottled water are allowed in elementary and middle schools, with the addition of diet beverages and calorie-capped sports drinks, flavored waters and teas in high schools. In addition to the removal of full-calorie soft drinks from all schools, the shift towards more lower-calorie, smaller-portion beverages is also contributing to the overall reduction in calories available from beverages in schools.
Copies of the "Alliance School Beverage Guidelines Final Progress Report" are available online.
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