In response to "Sugar Sweetened Beverages and Risk of Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes: A Meta-analysis," a paper published today in the journal Diabetes Care, Dr. Maureen Storey, senior vice president for science policy for the American Beverage Association, said:

"It is overly simplistic, and simply misleading, to suggest that reducing or eliminating sugar-sweetened beverages from the diet will uniquely lower incidence of serious health conditions such as diabetes or metabolic syndrome. After all, correlations found in epidemiological studies are not indicators of causality. In fact, there is a critical flaw in the design of the studies used in this meta-analysis in that the authors focus solely on the impact of one calorie source - sugar-sweetened beverages - on weight, rather than looking at all sources of calories.

Furthermore, medical experts agree that a primary risk factor for both diabetes and metabolic syndrome is obesity, something which can be mitigated by maintaining a healthy weight. And we know that the key to maintaining a healthy weight is balancing calories consumed, regardless of their source, with calories burned. Therefore, if anything, this paper only once again underscores the overall importance of a balanced, healthy and active lifestyle.

It's also important to recognize that, despite the authors' suggestion, sales of soft drinks have actually declined by nearly 12 percent since 2000, due in part to the beverage industry's innovation in bringing more no-calorie, low-calorie and smaller-portion beverage options to market. In fact, from 1998 to 2008, industry cut the total beverage calories it brought to market by 21 percent.

Regardless, there is nothing unique about the calories from sugar-sweetened beverages - calories that contribute only about 7 percent of the calories in the average American diet according to a National Cancer Institute analysis of government data. That means 93 percent of our calories come from other sources. Furthermore, when it comes to diabetes, a report issued just last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reinforced the importance of diet and physical activity in reducing risk, not singling out any one food or beverage for reduction or elimination from the diet.

If we truly want to lower the risk of obesity-related health conditions, we need to focus on nutrition education, access to information and physical activity. These are areas our industry supports and encourages by offering a wide variety of no- and low-calorie beverages, providing easy access to calorie information and promoting physical activity."

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The American Beverage Association is the trade association representing the broad spectrum of companies that manufacture and distribute non-alcoholic beverages in the United States.