The American Beverage Association, unsurprisingly, is less than happy with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s controversial plan to ban large sodas at restaurants. ABA, which bills itself as the “national voice for the non-alcoholic refreshment beverage industry,” published an article on their website aimed at refuting the measure, which they called “absurd,” “ridiculously unreasonable,” “unsound” and “incongruous.”
The D.C.-based organization then went on to provide a multipronged argument against the the ban, largely focused on statistics indicating that the trends already have calorie-laden soda use becoming less and less of a health problem on its own:
- By nearly every measure, the contribution of calories from beverages to the diet is declining, yet obesity is still rising.
- Since 1998, the average calories per serving from beverages is down 23 percent due to more low- and zero-calorie beverages.
- Added sugars consumed from soda is down 39 percent since 2000, according to the CDC.
- Sugar-sweetened beverages – like soda, ready-to-drink teas, sport drinks, juice drinks and flavored waters, account for only 7 percent of calories in the average American’s diet, according to government data. With 93 percent of our calories coming from other foods and beverages, meaningful steps to reduce obesity need to look at the bigger picture.From 1999-2010, full-calorie soda sales have declined 12.5 percent.
The ABA also argued that a restriction placed solely against soda made little sense considering all of the other unhealthy things that still will be readily available for consumers:
“Under this proposal, you and your family can still go to Yankee Stadium and order all of the following contributors to 93 percent of your daily calories: hot dogs, corn dogs and crinkle-cut fries; hamburgers with all of the fixings; nachos with all of the toppings; pretzels with cheese; pulled-pork and pulled-chicken sandwiches; cheese, pepperoni and sausage pizza; chicken fingers and a variety of french fries, including garlic fries and cheese fries; sweet and hot Italian sausages; regular, hot and barbecue chicken wings; freshly popped popcorn; fried dough, fried Twinkies and fried Oreos; soft-serve chocolate and vanilla ice cream; and finally, a few 32-ounce beers to wash it all down. The list goes on and on.
But don’t you DARE try to buy a 20-ounce bottle of soda at the ballpark.”
For their part, Mr. Bloomberg and his administration have repeatedly argued that sodas are a uniquely unhealthy part of the diet for multiple reasons, including their status as empty calories that do nothing to satiate hunger or other legitimate needs. And, moments ago, his office published a barrage of quotes from over a dozen leaders and anti-obesity advocates supporting his plan.
“Obesity is increasing every year. It is obvious that simply pointing that out, as we do, has not been enough to halt the increase in the number of people added to the obese list each year,” one of the supporters, former Mayor Ed Koch, said in the statement. “The Mayor’s action in restricting some of the sales of the unbelievably sugar-laden drinks is a positive measure. I pray it works.”
This is not the first time Mr. Bloomberg has gone to war with the beverage industry. He previously made a big push for a soda tax, only to be thwarted by lobbyists working over the State Legislature.