Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint venture of the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation by the beverage industry working with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint venture of the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation

Overview An Industry Taking the Lead
Sodas, sweetened waters and sports & energy drinks, contribute only 5.5% of the calories in the American diet according to government data, a miniscule amount relative to other calorie sources. Nevertheless, our members continue to lead the effort towards developing healthier children across the Commonwealth while ensuring policy makers 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?
In 2006 the American Beverage Association (ABA) announced that we were working with 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 since 2006:

  • 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.