LETTER: Beverage industry commits to obesity prevention

Monday, March 14, 2011 | 11:42 a.m. CDT

Regarding your recent article on obesity, your readers should know that the beverage industry, too, is concerned about obesity. We are also committed to being part of the solution.

Just last year, the beverage industry announced it had successfully implemented national School Beverage Guidelines that removed full-calorie soft drinks from all schools and replaced them with a range of lower-calorie, smaller-portion beverage options. It's part of a broader effort to teach children the importance of a balanced diet and exercise. This has been no easy feat, but we are proud that the guidelines have led to a dramatic 88-percent reduction in beverage calories shipped to schools since 2004.

Most recently, in support of the first lady's "Let's Move!" anti-obesity campaign, the beverage industry has begun voluntarily putting new labels on the front of every can, bottle and pack we produce — and displaying the total calories per container on beverages 20 ounces or smaller. This makes our products even more clear and consumer-friendly by putting calorie information right at consumers' fingertips at every point-of-purchase.

Obesity is a complex issue, and addressing it is important for all Americans. The Missouri beverage companies, members of MoBEV, understand this and are taking action to be responsible corporate citizens through voluntary self-regulation.

Some, however, are advocating for discriminatory taxes on our industry's products — products that account for only about 7 percent of total calories in the average American's diet — as the solution to obesity. This is an overly simplistic and ineffective approach to the obesity challenge.

If we're genuinely interested in curbing obesity, we need to take a hard look in the mirror and acknowledge that maintaining a healthy weight comes down to a simple equation of balancing calories in with calories out. Taxes don't make people healthier — a balanced diet and exercise do.

William Gamble is the executive director of the Missouri Beverage Association.

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Greg Allen March 14, 2011 | 4:28 p.m.

So you're saying that it's okay to remove calories -- which I applaud you for -- but not to reduce your profit?

* Grin *

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