A new report released today shows that the beverage industry continues to significantly cut calories in schools two years into a three-year implementation period of the national School Beverage Guidelines. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint initiative of the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association, worked with representatives of The Coca-Cola Company, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, PepsiCo Inc., and the American Beverage Association to establish guidelines that limit portion sizes and reduce the number of calories available to children during the school day.
The School Beverage Guidelines Progress Report 2007-2008 showed beverage calories shipped to schools decreased by 58 percent since 2004, the last comprehensive analysis available prior to creation of the School Beverage Guidelines in 2006.
The report was released during a news conference with former President Bill Clinton and American Heart Association President Timothy J. Gardner, M.D., FAHA, medical director of the Center for Heart and Vascular Health at Christina Care (Del.)– who are co-leads of the Alliance along with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger –as well as American Beverage Association President and CEO Susan K. Neely.
Importantly, the second annual progress report shows that 79 percent of schools under contract with bottlers are already in compliance with the national School Beverage Guidelines. This surpasses a specific benchmark set forth as part of the guidelines agreement that 75 percent of schools under contract must be in compliance by the 2008-2009 school year, which just began.
“We’re cutting calories in schools, plain and simple,” Neely says. “This industry made a bold commitment two years ago to change the beverage mix in schools, and we are delivering. We recognize that schools are unique places and we’re doing our part to help students understand the importance of balancing calories burned with calories consumed.”
Data for the annual report is collected and analyzed by Keybridge Research LLC, an independent policy research firm.
The voluntary agreement between the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, American Beverage Association, The Coca-Cola Company, Dr Pepper Snapple Group (formerly Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages), and PepsiCo, Inc. was announced by President Clinton along with leaders of the beverage industry on May 3, 2006. The science-based guidelines call for the beverage industry to provide lower-calorie and smaller-portion options in schools, including the removal of full-calorie soft drinks, all by the 2009-2010 school year. Beverage options include 100 percent juice, low-fat milk, and bottled water in elementary and middle schools, with the addition of diet sodas, calorie-capped sports drinks and enhanced waters, and low-calorie teas in high schools. It is the shift toward lower-calorie, smaller-portion beverages that is contributing to the reduction in calories available from beverages in schools, as well as the change in the beverage mix available to students.