Sara Massey

Op-Ed: A Path for Clear, Balanced Beverage Options

By Sara Massey, Executive Director of the Kentucky Beverage Association

Beverage aisles at the grocery store look a lot different now than how they did when I was little. Alongside all the “regular” sodas, Kentuckians can find zero sugar and reduced sugar options and sparkling waters on every shelf, in every flavor imaginable.

This noticeable change is because, thanks to health education, we’ve all come to learn that everything is best in moderation.

Even still, sodas too often catch the heat for destroying health goals and promoting obesity. Of course, too much soda can be a bad thing, as can too much of anything, really! Instead of all-or-nothing, most consumers have adopted the idea that a balanced diet is a more realistic and sustainable approach.

The Kentucky Beverage Association (KBA) has worked hard to empower consumers to achieve that balanced lifestyle, and our members believe it’s important to continue that work while ensuring education on smart nutrition is available.

From locally led initiatives like Healthy Mouth, Healthy You, to national partnerships like Clear on Calories, the KBA is spreading awareness and sharing resources to help Kentuckians make healthy, balanced choices.

In 2006, beverage companies helped remove full-calorie beverages from schools, ultimately decreasing beverage calories consumed in schools by 94 percent. These School Beverage Guidelines went on to help form the beverage component of USDA’s regulations for foods and beverages sold in schools.

In order to ensure consumers have clear, easy-to-understand information about the calories and sugar in beverages, American Beverage implemented Clear on Calories in 2010. Ever since, beverage companies have placed calorie count labels on the front of each bottle, can and pack they produce.

Shortly after Clear on Calories launched, the Calories Count™ Beverage Vending Program placed calorie reminders on more than 3 million vending machines, fountains and coolers nationwide to show consumers how many calories are in the drink they are about to purchase.

As consumers, it’s our personal responsibility to be aware of our sugar intake, and beverage companies are doing what they can to support consumers and their goals. In 2014, the beverage industry partnered with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation on the Balance Calories Initiative. Beverage companies stepped up product innovation to focus on those looking for lower-sugar options in their grocery stores. Now, 400+ brands have less sugar or no sugar at all, and 60 percent of products are low-cal, no-cal, or zero sugar.

Beverage companies are creating a positive change in the health of Kentuckians with more options and fewer calories. For four years straight, beverage calories consumed per person nationally have dropped, eliminating trillions of calories from the diet.

Beverage companies plan to continue driving that shift toward balanced options with a goal of decreasing beverage calories consumed per person nationally by 20 percent.

Kentucky’s beverage companies continue to put the needs of consumers at the forefront of their operation by creating new products that promote healthier, balanced options. It’s exciting to see so many Kentuckians embrace that balance by making choices that work best for their lifestyle.

No matter what choice you make to find better balance, the beverage companies throughout Kentucky will keep working to make it easy for you!


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