Balancing Calories

Our industry has a longstanding commitment to being part of the solution to reducing obesity in America. Now, with our Balance Calories Initiative, we are transforming the beverage landscape in communities nationwide. This initiative will take our efforts to provide consumers with more choices, smaller portions and fewer calories to an ambitious new level.

The Balance Calories Initiative is the single-largest voluntary effort by an industry to help fight obesity. Working with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, America’s leading beverage companies have set a goal to reduce beverage calories consumed per person nationally by 20 percent by 2025. To help achieve this goal, the beverage companies will engage in national and community efforts.

Nationally, the beverage companies will: 

  • Leverage their marketing, innovation and distribution strengths to increase and sustain consumer interest in and access to smaller portion sizes, water and no- and lower-calorie beverages.
  • Provide calorie counts, and promote calorie awareness on all beverage company-controlled point-of-sale equipment nationwide.
  • Launch a first-of-its kind national consumer awareness and engagement program – Mixify™ – encouraging teens and their families to balance their calories by moderating what they consume, including beverages, and getting more active.

Locally, the beverage companies will:

  • Focus efforts in communities where there has been less interest in and/or access to options that help consumers reduce their calories with a goal of achieving a 20 percent per person reduction of calories consumed from beverages in those communities within ten years.
  • The companies will begin this community initiative in Los Angeles, Calif., and Little Rock, Ark., to help bring communities more in line with what’s happening nationally.
  • Local market efforts will include promoting water and no- and lower-calorie beverage consumption as well as other strategies such as merchandising, product placement and couponing to drive interest in and improve access to these choices.

School Beverage Guidelines

America’s beverage companies made a promise to parents that we would change the beverages offered in schools. And we delivered the National School Beverage Guidelines, which removed full-calorie sodas from schools and replaced them with a range of lower-calorie and smaller-portion choices. With help from schools across the country, implementation of these guidelines has led to significant results.

K – 8 Guidelines:

Effective October 2006, the Illinois State Board of Education 23 Illinois Administrative Code Ch. 1 Section 305.15 (2006) states that any school participating in the School Breakfast Program and/or the National School Lunch Program with students in grade 8 or below must adhere to the following before school and during the regular school day.

  • Flavored or plain whole, reduced fat (2%), low-fat (1%), or nonfat fluid milk
  • Reduced fat and enriched alternative dairy beverages (i.e., rice, nut, or soy milk)
  • Fruit and vegetable drinks containing > 50% fruit or vegetable juice
  • Water (non-flavored, non-sweetened, and non-carbonated)
  • Fruit smoothie (yogurt or ice based) that contains less than 400 calories and no added sugars, and is made from fresh or frozen fruit or fruit drinks that contain > 50% fruit juice
  • Beverages exempted from the USDA’s list of Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value

High School Guidelines:

  • Bottled water
  • No- or low-calorie beverages with up to 10 calories / 8 ounces
  • Up to 12 ounce servings of milk, 100% juice and certain other drinks
  • Fat-free or low-fat regular and flavored milk and nutritionally equivalent (per USDA) milk alternatives with up to 150 calories / 8 ounces
  • 100% juice with no added sweeteners, up to 120 calories / 8 ounces, and with at least 10% of the recommended daily value for three or more vitamins and minerals
  • Other drinks with no more than 66 calories / 8 ounces
  • At least 50% of non-milk beverages must be water and no- or low-calorie options

Time of Day Guidelines:

These guidelines apply to all beverages sold on school grounds during the regular and extended school day. The extended school day includes before and after school activities like clubs, yearbook, band, student government, drama and childcare/latchkey programs. These guidelines do not apply to school-related events where parents and other adults are part of an audience or are selling beverages as boosters during intermission, as well as immediately before or after an event. Examples of these events include school plays and band concerts.

Protecting Consumer Choice

Partnerships with the beverage industry to increase consumer awareness have proven far more effective in improving public health without destroying jobs, hurting small business or increasing costs on working families. Yet, more than 40 discriminatory taxes on our products have been proposed and rejected across the country.

As we saw in Illinois with Cook County’s unfair beverage tax, outrage from Cook County residents and businesses was overwhelming. Cook County became the first local unit of government in the country to repeal an existing beverage tax.

Beverage Taxes:

  1. Are bad tax policy
  2. Are all about revenue
  3. Are regressive
  4. Do not improve public health
  5. Are politically unpopular

Beverage taxes are just another way to nickel and dime residents to generate new revenue, and Cook County fought their 2017 Beverage Tax, and won. Cook County’s Beverage Tax was not just a sugar tax, or for public health purposes, but was solely about raising revenue.

Container Tax

  • Container taxes target the beverage industry, but can damage the environment. By forcing deposits of beverage containers, a community ends up focusing on a narrow part of the waste stream, offering little overall environmental gain.
  • Container taxes cause consumers to make special trips to deposit centers to redeem their empty containers, thus leading to further fuel consumption and wasted energy. Redemption systems are also costly to operate, and consumers ultimately bear the costs of these systems through higher prices for beverages and other groceries.
  • Community recycling programs also suffer, losing revenue from valuable aluminum cans and PET bottles, which then hurts a community’s recycling economics, leading to more inefficient collection.

Energy Drinks

There is a lot of misinformation about energy drinks, especially as it relates to the amounts of caffeine contained in the products and how they are regulated. The vast majority of energy drinks consumed in the United States — including Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar, AMP, Full Throttle and NOS — have similar or lower levels of caffeine than home-brewed coffee which many Americans enjoy on a daily basis. A 16 fluid ounce energy drink typically contains between 160 and 240 milligrams of caffeine, while the same size coffeehouse coffee contains around 300 to 330 milligrams. Caffeine has been safely consumed around the world for hundreds of years.

Myth: Energy drinks have “high” or “dangerous” amounts of caffeine.

Fact: The vast majority of energy drinks consumed in the United States – including Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar, Full Throttle and NOS – have similar or lower levels of caffeine than home-brewed coffee.

Myth: With the recent growth of the energy drink category, Americans are getting dangerous amounts of caffeine in their diet.

Fact: The FDA commissioned an analysis of caffeine consumption among the U.S. population in 2009, which concluded that despite the growth of energy drinks in the marketplace, the average amount of caffeine consumed by the adult U.S. population remained consistent with past estimates – approximately 300 milligrams of caffeine daily.

Myth: Energy drinks aren’t regulated.

Fact: Energy drinks, their ingredients and labeling are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).