American Beverage Association Disputes Review Article on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Weight Gain

CONTACT: Jennifer Phillips, (202) 463-6705

WASHINGTON— The recent review by Vasanti S. Malik, “Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systemic review,” published in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition contains no new research and, most importantly, the authors chose to ignore critical articles and studies that contradict their hypothesis.

“These authors conclude the evidence indicates greater consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with weight gain and obesity, but a recent review by others looking at the exact same studies concluded that there was a lack of evidence to support this idea,” said Dr. Richard Adamson, senior scientific consultant for the American Beverage Association. “Blaming one specific product or ingredient as the root cause of obesity defies common sense. Instead, there are many contributing factors, including regular physical activity.”

“A study cannot be taken seriously when it only reviews articles that support its hypothesis, while ignoring the range of studies undermining its hypothesis,” Dr. Adamson added.

In fact, several studies refute the review’s findings, for instance:
• The authors failed to note the prestigious Institute of Medicine report from 2002 that reviewed nearly 300 published studies and stated, “Published reports disagree about whether a direct link exists between the trend toward increased intakes of sugars and increased rates of obesity.”
• Another critical omission is the largest study published-to-date on adolescent obesity. Authored by I. Janssen, the May 2005 cross sectional survey of obesity and overweight among more than 137,000 girls and boys ages 10-16, concluded, “Overweight status was not associated with the intake of fruits, vegetables and soft drinks.” In fact, it stated that increased physical activity and less time spent watching television should be the “focus of strategies aimed at preventing and treating overweight and obesity in youth.” It should be noted that there were more subjects in this study than in all the combined studies cited by Malik et al.
• While the review sites obesity in relation to sugar-sweetened beverages, the authors failed to note a different Harvard study, which showed kids who drank a higher amount of milk gained the most weight. Clearly, calories ingested from any source, such as milk, sugar-sweetened beverages or other foods, can lead to weight gain when not properly balanced with increased physical activity.
• Yet another study not included in this review appeared in the February 2002 issue of the Journal of American Dietetic Association by Rajeshiwari showed no linear relationship between sweetened beverage consumption, Body Mass Index (BMI) and total energy intake among more than 1,500 ten-year-old children.
• An article published in Risk Analysis by Richard Forshee in 2005 was the only study in current literature that used risk analysis to understand the effect on BMI from full-calorie carbonated soft drinks obtained from school vending machines. The results showed no significant impact on BMI from removing these drinks from schools.
• Additionally, the authors discuss some hypotheses regarding soft drink intake and weight gain, suggesting that liquid calories provide less compensation than solid food and lead to greater calorie intake in subsequent meals. This hypothesis is debatable according to both leading scientists and the 2005 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Dietary Guidelines.

“Overweight and obesity are complex issues that have no single cause, but rather are dependent upon many factors including genetics, lifestyle, eating habits and exercise. Eating a balanced diet and incorporating exercise are essential components to a healthy lifestyle,” Dr. Adamson said. Dr. Adamson is the former Section Chief, Laboratory Chief and Director, Division of Cancer Etiology and Scientific Director for the National Cancer Institute. He also has served as Senior Policy Analyst, Office of Science and Technology Policy for the Executive Office of the President.

The American Beverage Association believes that all beverages can be part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle. The beverage industry offers a wide variety of beverage choices that meet consumers’ needs, such as bottled waters, 100 percent fruit juices, sports drinks and low-calorie soft drinks. In addition, the industry produces various sized beverages for consumers looking to incorporate different serving portions in their diets.

Furthermore, the beverage industry, the American Heart Association and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation recently joined together to create new school beverage guidelines that focus on calories consumed and calories burned. Under the new guidelines, schools will offer only lower-calorie, nutrition-focused and functional beverages. The beverage industry partnered with AHA and the Alliance because of the strong emphasis on teaching school children how to eat a balanced diet and incorporate more exercise into their lives, which are essential tools for a lifetime of health and wellness.

The American Beverage Association is the trade association representing the broad spectrum of companies that manufacture and distribute non-alcoholic beverages in the United States.

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Nebraska Beverage Association Launches Website

The Nebraska Beverage Association has launched its website. The Nebraska Beverage Association, formerly the Nebraska Soft Drink Association, has been the unifying voice for the non-alcoholic beverage industry in Nebraska for over thirty years. We currently have over 25 members who are actively involved in supporting the development and interests of the Nebraska beverage industry.

The Nebraska Beverage Association vigorously promotes the industry in a variety of forums. The Association actively represents its members on the federal, state, and local levels of government.

The website is found at


Call 402-474-6200


The Nebraska Beverage Association can connect members of the media with spokespersons for the industry or with experts on a variety of issues. Please contact John Lindsay at (402) 474-6200.

School Beverage Guidelines

Helping schools provide healthy settings for their students is a top priority for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program will recognize schools that currently foster healthy environments and assist schools who need help doing so. These guidelines were developed to serve as the beverage criteria for the Healthy Schools Program. They will accelerate the shift to lower-calorie and nutritious beverages that children consume during the regular and extended school day.

These guidelines have been adopted by the Nebraska Beverage Association, American Beverage Association, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and Cadbury Schweppes as their new school beverage policy.

Elementary School
• Bottled water
• Up to 8 ounce servings of milk and 100% juice**
• Low fat and non fat regular and flavored milk* with up to 150 calories / 8 ounces
• 100% juice** with no added sweeteners and up to 120 calories / 8 ounces

Middle School
• Same as elementary school, except juice and milk may be sold in 10 ounce servings***

High School
• Bottled water
• No or low calorie beverages with up to 10 calories / 8 ounces
• Up to 12 ounce servings of milk, 100% juice**, light juice and sports drinks
• Low fat and non fat regular and flavored milk with up to 150 calories / 8 ounces
• 100% juice** with no added sweeteners and up to 120 calories / 8 ounces
• Light juices and sports drinks with no more than 66 calories / 8 ounces
• At least 50% of beverages must be water and no or low calorie options

Time of Day
All beverages sold on school grounds during the regular and extended school day. The extended school day includes activities such as clubs, yearbook, band and choir practice, student government, drama, and childcare / latchkey programs.

This beverage Policy does not apply to school-related events; such as interscholastic sporting events, school plays, and band concerts; where parents and other adults constitute a significant portion of the audience or are selling beverages as boosters.
* Milk includes nutritionally equivalent milk alternatives (per USDA), such as soy milk.
** 100% juice that contains at least 10% of the recommended daily value for three or more vitamins and minerals.
*** As a practical matter, if middle school and high school students have shared access to areas on a common campus or in common buildings, then the school community has the option to adopt the high school standard.

Nebraska Beverage Association - 440 S. 13th Street, Suite C, Lincoln, NE, 68508 - Phone: (402) 474-6200

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