In a move that former President Bill Clinton said was "huge," the nation's largest soda manufactures announced that they would together work to fight obesity in the U.S. According to the New York Times, the announcement came at this week's 10th annual Clinton Global Initiative. Coca Cola, Pepsi, and Dr Pepper "pledged to cut the number of sugary drink calories that Americans consume by one-fifth in about a decade, through a combination of marketing, distribution and packaging."
The wide-reaching program covers everything from soda served at restaurants and convenience stores to that sold out of a vending machine to soda offered in schools. Grocery stores are also on the list. Said Susan Neely of the American Beverage Association: "We'll use the most critical levers we have at our disposal, and the focus really will be on transforming the beverage landscape in the U.S. over the next 10 years." By 2025, the organization aims to be selling 20 percent fewer calories to the American public. Because "6 percent of the average consumer's daily calories" come from soft drinks, this could mean, in Clinton's words, "a couple of pounds of weight loss" per person per year.
The industry's goals will be achieved by first looking at how package-size impacts consumption and reducing the size of certain containers. Additionally, a long-term marketing strategy has already begun. The companies have put up signage in a few regions next to points of sale (vending machines, cashier counters) to remind consumers to check the calories on the packaging. Packaging is also being redesigned to so that calorie counts appear prominently on the product. Will restaurants be encouraged to list the caloric content of the soft drinks they offer? This remains to be seen.