The beverage industry has always recognized that childhood obesity is a complex problem that requires comprehensive solutions. In fact, helping our children learn how to lead balanced lifestyles that carry with them into adulthood is just as complex and requires just as diverse a set of solutions.
We believe our industry is providing one of those solutions with the national School Beverage Guidelines - which dramatically cut calories available in schools by changing the beverages sold there.
In fact, we think Congress should make these guidelines the law of the land as part of a broader package of what foods and beverages can be sold in schools.
Some members of Congress, along with some advocacy groups, want a new federal standard on school nutrition. Our industry supports this goal and has worked with congressional leaders to achieve it. That's why we continue to put our model goals out there as a cornerstone for such legislation.
Our companies recognize that it must be part of the solution and that schools offer a unique educational setting. Schools, after all, are where our students are learning one of the most important equations outside of math class: how to balance calories consumed with calories burned. It's a rather simple equation that is the core to maintaining one's weight. Achieving that equation, however, isn't so simple as we all know. It's complicated.
That's why our industry is doing its part by implementing the national School Beverage Guidelines. The guidelines are based on calories. We're changing the beverage mix dramatically in schools across America to reinforce the balanced calories equation being taught in the health and nutrition classrooms.
In short, the School Beverage Guidelines cap calories on beverages, reduce portion sizes and provide for more low-calorie, nutritious options. And, our industry is removing all full-calorie soft drinks from schools. We developed these guidelines with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation – a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and William J. Clinton Foundation.
So far, we have nearly 80 percent of schools under contract with our companies in compliance with the guidelines and we've cut calories from beverages in schools by 58 percent. Pretty strong progress in a short amount of time.
This really isn't meant to toot our own horn too much; but these are important facts to consider in addressing school nutrition. Our industry stepped up to do something substantial about what is sold in our schools. We did so with strong partners. We're delivering on our commitment. And it's having an impact. Parents, doctors and other health professionals tell us repeatedly, in surveys and in person, that our guidelines strike the right balance.
So if lawmakers are looking to create a new school nutrition standard, they should use our School Beverage Guidelines as the foundation for a broader set of rules on what foods and beverages can be sold in our schools. (And they shouldn't forget about the other side of the equation and also improve physical activity in our schools.)
Our industry knows it must be part of the solution on school nutrition. It's why we're taking the tough steps to lead on this issue.