American Beverage Association Statement on Beverage Available in Secondary Schools

In response to “Trends in Competitive Venue Beverage Availability: Findings From US Secondary Schools,” a research letter published in the August issue of the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, the American Beverage Association issued the following statement:

Statement:

“This research letter looks at beverages available in schools from all sources, including from third party providers – many of which may not follow the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s national School Beverage Guidelines. By implementing the School Beverage Guidelines in all K-12 schools they serve, ABA member companies have reduced beverage calories shipped to schools by a dramatic 88 percent between 2004 and 2010. Through the voluntary efforts of our member companies, the School Beverage Guidelines are in place across the nation and are working. We support their adoption as part of the federal regulations for competitive foods in schools to ensure students in all schools nationwide have access to the same age-appropriate choices.”

Additional Background Information:

On the Letter:

  • To assess beverages available in competitive venues, the authors use data from a questionnaire mailed to school principals. This questionnaire is less credible than the actual measuring of school shipments, as was used in the independent analysis assessing implementation of our industry’s national School Beverage Guidelines.
  • Importantly, the data does not assess what is available to schools through the School Beverage Guidelines, but rather looks at beverage availability from all sources. In fact, some schools may purchase products from alternative sources such as vending companies, food service distributors or even big-box stores where their purchases are outside the control of our industry.

On School Beverage Guidelines:

  • Our School Beverage Guidelines Final Progress Report is reflective of the beverages our member companies make available in schools across the nation.
  • Under the School Beverage Guidelines, our member companies removed full-calorie soft drinks from all schools and replaced them with more lower-calorie, smaller-portion options.
  • Only bottled water, low-fat milk and 100 percent juice are allowed in elementary and middle schools, with the addition of lower-calorie and portion-controlled beverages in high schools.
  • As a result of the School Beverage Guidelines, there has been an 88 percent reduction in calories from beverages shipped to schools since 2004.
  • Our School Beverage Guidelines Final Progress Report measures bottler shipments to schools only, the only way in which our member companies make beverages available in the school environment. It does not measure beverages purchased by schools from other sources such as vending companies, food service distributors and box stores.
  • This is an historic effort that was implemented in good faith as a result of a promise to change the school beverage landscape in our nation’s schools – and we delivered on our commitment.
  • The School Beverage Guidelines are a national standard that is in place and working. In fact, the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act” encourages the U.S. Department of Agriculture to look at existing standards, such as the guidelines, during the development of child nutrition regulations on competitive foods.

On Sports Drinks:

  • Under the School Beverage Guidelines, sports drinks are allowed in high schools. However, it is important to note that the guidelines cap calories for sports drinks in schools at 66 calories per 8 ounces, and portions are capped at a maximum of 12 ounces.
  • In cases where middle schools are part of high schools – for example, some schools are grades 7 through 12 – the guidelines permit middle schools to adopt the high school standards if they so choose.
  • When it comes to sports drinks, they clearly have a functional place in schools.
  • In fact, a 2010-11 High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) showed that participation in high school sports increased for the 22nd consecutive year, with 55.5 percent of high schools students now participating in athletics. This only reinforces the role that high school sports can have in schools across the country, especially at a time when physical activity is a key component of a comprehensive solution to childhood obesity.
  • Importantly, the calories contained in sports drinks, largely through carbohydrates, are needed to fuel working muscles of active students.

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.