The Coca-Cola Company launched an anti-obesity ad campaign last year that promoted its low-calorie drink options and encouraged customers to take responsibility for their drink choices. The beverage company and its competitors will take on the responsibility this time by cutting consumers' sugar intake in its products.
Coke, Pepsi Co. and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group pledged to reduce the number of sugary drink calories that Americans consume by 20 percent by 2025. They will put more promotion into smaller portion sizes, water and diet drinks. The companies made their commitment at the 10th annual Clinton Global Initiative in New York City on Sept. 23.
"I am excited about the potential of this voluntary commitment by the beverage industry. It can be a critical step in our ongoing fight against obesity," former President Bill Clinton said in a Clinton Foundation release.
The companies will provide calorie counts and promote calorie awareness for their products at company-controlled point-of-sale locations, such as vending machines, fountain drinks and retail coolers at convenience stores, restaurants and other locations. The three beverage providers will focus their efforts on communities with little interest or option to reduce their liquid calorie-intake.
"This is the single-largest voluntary effort by an industry to help fight obesity and leverages our companies' greatest strengths in marketing, innovation and distribution," said Susan K. Neely, President and CEO of the American Beverage Association. "This initiative will help transform the beverage landscape in America. It takes our efforts to provide consumers with more choices, smaller portions and fewer calories to an ambitious new level.
Clinton also challenged the companies to consider their younger customers in their pledge, according to the The New York Times.
"I told them, if I were you, I'd be thinking about it like this: You want these kids to be your consumers when they grow into adults, but if a significant number of them develop diabetes and heart disease when they're older, their disposable income is going to be taken up with health care and medical bills," Clinton said.
The program will start in Little Rock, Arkansas and Los Angeles, California.
The Clinton Foundation and these same companies pushed a similar commitment in 2006 to establish the Alliance School Beverage Guidelines. The initiative limited portion sizes and reduced the number of beverage calories available to students in school. The program succeeded in reducing calories in beverages delivered to schools by 90 percent between 2004 and 2010.