During President Obama's first year in office, he and the First Lady have used many opportunities to speak about the importance of raising healthy children. From education to physical activity to nutrition, both have made it known that we need a comprehensive, well-rounded approach to ensuring that today's youth have the tools and support that they need to continue to be the key to our nation's future.
Thus, it was a welcome next step that Mrs. Obama addressed the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Wednesday and challenged our nation’s mayors to help in the battle against childhood obesity. Calling it "one of the biggest threats to the American economy," Mrs. Obama spoke to the current childhood obesity challenge and what mayors can do on-the-ground in their local communities to engage their citizens to live healthier lives. In fact, she pointed out some stellar examples from across the country. The First Lady acknowledged that childhood obesity will not be solved in one year, nor in one Administration. But we agree with her: it can be solved. And it must take a pragmatic, unified approach from all sectors of society.
The beverage industry has been - and continues to be - engaged in doing its part to help reduce childhood obesity. In fact, our member companies recognize that eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise are the keys to living a balanced lifestyle. And this is something that our industry supports and encourages by helping consumers make appropriate choices by providing easy access to calorie and nutrition information and promoting physical activity.
And when it comes to our nation’s schoolchildren, our industry has been the industry leader on health and wellness. Recognizing that schools are unique environments that play a meaningful role in shaping our children's health, in 2006 the beverage industry developed School Beverage Guidelines that remove full-calorie soft drinks from all schools and provide for more lower-calorie, nutritious, smaller-portion beverage choices. It's all part of a broader effort to teach children the importance of a balanced diet and exercise. And we’re delivering results. After just two years of a three-year implementation period, we’ve already reduced beverage calories shipped to schools by 58 percent - and shipments of full-calorie soft drinks are down by 65 percent. Our final report on implementation, which will be available in the coming months, will further demonstrate this transition. This has been no easy feat for our industry, but it demonstrates our commitment to America’s youth - for today and for generations to come - in changing the school beverage landscape.
So Sip & Savor, and the beverage industry at-large, applauds the First Lady in shining a spotlight on this issue and calling for common sense solutions that will actually make a difference. Mrs. Obama can rest assured that our industry is one that will continue to step up to the plate and do our part to address the complex issue of childhood obesity.