AMA Adopts New Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Policy

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Chicago, IL — The American Medical Association (AMA) adopted a new policy at its recent Annual Meeting aiming to decrease the amount of sugar Americans consume via sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB). The policy is a result of consistent scientific verification that diseases such as coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes are tied to  ingestion of SSBs.

“Excessive sugar consumption has been linked to some of the nation’s most debilitating diseases, and limiting the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages will go a long way toward helping people prevent the onset of these diseases, improve health outcomes, and rein in health costs associated with chronic diseases,” said AMA Board Member William E. Kobler, M.D., in a statement.

Recent studies by both JAMA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), show that on average, Americans have a higher sugar intake than is suggested in order to maintain a healthy diet.

With the adoption of the new policy, steps can be taken towards decreasing sugar intake by utilizing new strategies, such as applying excise taxes on SSBs, seen recently in Philadelphia, and again in Seattle. Other tactics that can be applied include using plain packaging, and limiting the options and portion sizes of SSBs available. In addition, there is call for more transparency of SSBs including caloric information placing warning labels on products.

The policy also encourages reducing the overall availability of SSBs in places such as health care facilities, childcare settings and schools. Having healthier beverages options available at these locations and educating both children and adults about the health consequences of too much sugar is also a part of the policy.

This new AMA policy joins policy already in place to assist Americans in understanding the effects of too much sugar consumption and is backed by a proposal by the FDA which would require that added sugars appear on nutrition labels.

Responding to industry feedback, the FDA recently announced it will extend the compliance date.

1 COMMENT

  1. America’s beverage companies share the goal of a strong, healthy America, which is why we are investing our energy and resources in comprehensive efforts to meaningfully address complex health challenges like obesity. We are driving a reduction in the sugar and calories consumed from beverages across America – engaging with prominent public health and community organizations in this effort. We’re rolling up our sleeves and working with community leaders and stakeholders in places with some of the highest rates of obesity in the country like the Mississippi Delta and rural Alabama.

    Real world evidence shows that taxes do not reduce obesity or improve public health. In Mexico, the Mexico Department of Public Health reported in December that obesity has actually gone up despite a tax enacted in 2014 that has cost thousands of jobs. In Berkeley, the latest study shows that the tax caused people to add calories to their diets, not reduce calories.

    Real and lasting change requires giving people the information to moderate their calories and the options to do it. America’s beverage companies are providing more choices with less sugar or no sugar at all, clear calorie labels on the front of all of our products and the encouragement to cut back on sugar and calories from beverages with calorie awareness signs on company-controlled vending machines, fountain equipment and retail coolers nationwide.

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