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An Industry Leading The Way

Full-calorie beverages, sweetened waters, and sports & energy drinks, contribute only 5.5% of the calories in the American diet according to government data, a minuscule amount relative to other calorie sources. Nevertheless, our members continue to lead the effort towards developing healthier children across the Commonwealth while ensuring policymakers carefully balance all sides of the health equation allowing Virginians to take personal responsibility for having a variety of consumption options.

What are the School Beverage Guidelines?

The American Beverage industry announced the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint initiative of the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association to provide School Beverage Guidelines that limit the number of calories available in beverages by providing students with even more low-calorie, nutritious, smaller-portion options. The program sets clear standards for nutrition, physical activity, physical education & staff wellness in our schools. In addition schools at every level have guidelines that are not broad and fluffy but instead specific and rigorous in terms of what types of beverages that should be served, when and where they can be sold, what maximum sizes should be served and how many calories should be in those servings. The Virginia Beverage Association (VBA) has encouraged all of its members to adopt that policy.

Have the School Beverage Guidelines Delivered Results? 

Our industry promised parents that we would voluntarily change the beverage mix in schools, and our companies – along with their school partners – and have delivered dramatic and significant results including completely removing full-calorie sodas from schools. The markers of clear and sustained progress:

  • An 88% decrease in beverage calories shipped to schools & a 95% decrease in full-calorie soft drinks shipped.


  • The beverage mix in schools continues to shift significantly to waters, sports drinks, diet drinks & 100% juices.


  • Establishment of a nationwide initiative that furthers our commitment to making the number of calories in our products even more consumer-friendly: Clear on Calories has the following components:


  • A Labeling Commitment  Total calorie counts must be on the front of all containers. Additionally, total calorie counts must be clearly and prominently displayed on selection buttons of vending machines & fountain equipment.


  • Calorie Label Design and Placement Using sophisticated consumer research the beverage companies agreed to use a uniform, easy-to-find calorie label, consistent in both design and location.


Why Are Low-Calorie Soft Drinks & Sports Drinks Allowed Under the Guidelines? 

The Guidelines focus on calories and helping to control calorie consumption. Students enjoy variety in their beverage choices and diet soft drinks are an appropriate refreshment for high school students. The fact that these drinks are low-calorie and refreshing helps to reinforce the focus on calories for students as part of maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. Additionally sports drinks have a place in schools as they provide a functional benefit necessary for students to add energy and absorb fluids efficiently  for hydration while competing in sports or other recreation.

Does Consumption of Sodas Contribute to Childhood Obesity? 

While beverages and food play a role in determining good health, so do other key factors. In fact, it is generally accepted that obesity involves three main factors: genetics, diet and exercise. We know that obesity is a serious and complex problem that is best addressed by living a balanced lifestyle consuming a variety of foods and beverages in moderation and getting plenty of exercise. Quite simply, obesity is a result of an imbalance between calories consumed & calories burned. We need to not rely on one-time gimmicks but instead start doing the hard work of teaching children how to incorporate different foods and beverages into a balanced diet and an active lifestyle.

Default Beverages in Children’s Meals Policy


Default Beverages in Children’s Meals Policy ABA and America’s leading beverage companies recognize that parents are more than capable of making the food and beverage choices that are best for their families. When it comes to their youngest children, we have repeatedly heard from parents that they believe that water, milk, or juice are the best options. However, they also want to be able to select another beverage available on the menu, such as a soft drink, if they choose.

This is why we are committed to working with our restaurant customers across the country who are interested in voluntarily adopting the following default beverages in children’s meals:

• Water – Water, sparkling water or flavored water, with no added natural or artificial sweeteners; and/or


• Milk – Flavored or unflavored nonfat or low-fat (1 percent) dairy milk or non-dairy beverage that is nutritionally equivalent to fluid milk (i.e. soy milk) in a serving size of 8 ounces or less; and/or


• Juice – 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice, or fruit and/or vegetable juice combined with water or carbonated water, with no added natural or artificial sweeteners, in a serving size of 8 ounces or less

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