Soda Industry Pledges to Cut Calories Over 10 Years

Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson


Americans are turning away from carbonated soft drinks in droves. Full-calorie soda is now prohibited in schools and increasingly restricted on public property. Addressing soda-related diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, by further reducing soda consumption is a top goal of health officials across the country. As a result, sales of non-diet soda have fallen by about 15 percent since 1998 and are expected to continue on that steep, downward glide path.

So it comes as welcome news that the biggest three companies have agreed to reduce calories from their beverages by 20 percent over the next 10 years; non-diet soda is in a free-fall anyway. We applaud President Clinton for his efforts. But we need much bigger and faster reductions to adequately protect the public's health.

The industry could accelerate progress by dropping its opposition to taxes and warning labels on sugar drinks. Those taxes could further reduce calories in America's beverage mix even more quickly, and would raise needed revenue for the prevention and treatment of soda-related diseases.

It's puzzling why the soda companies are committing only to provide calorie labeling on a third of vending machines. It's not entirely up to them; regulations required by the Affordable Care Act will soon require calorie labeling on the vast majority of vending machines nationwide.