Center for Communications, Health and the Environment
|Spring 2011||Vol. 6, Issue 1|
New U.S. Dietary Guidelines Target Consumption to Combat Obesity, Other Chronic Diseases
Pressure to “Dump Soda” Prompts Pepsi Pull-out from Schools Worldwide
CECHE remains committed to improving health and well-being, with particular emphasis on combatting obesity and diet-related disease worldwide. Its fruitful collaboration with Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) on its Global Dump Soft Drinks Campaign continues to make significant strides on this front.
Launched in October 2007, the initiative aims to reduce consumption of high-calorie carbonated and non-carbonated beverages worldwide. It also seeks to establish working relationships with industry leaders and provide resources for advocates, including a detailed Web site, www.dumpsoftdrinks.org.
CECHE has specifically supported CSPI’s collaboration with VOICE, a consumer-advocacy coalition in India. In addition to urging the Indian government to curb soft drinks marketing and demanding product, portion and program actions, VOICE is working with CECHE and CSPI on a nationwide push to remove soft drinks from Indian schools.
Its efforts received a significant boost in March 2010, when PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi announced that the company would phase out full-sugar carbonated soft drinks and some other high-calorie beverages from all schools worldwide (a practice it instituted in the United States and Canada four years earlier).
PepsiCo’s new global policy went into effect on January 1, 2011. In addition to the “Dump Soft Drinks” campaign and grassroots pressure, its development and implementation stemmed from negotiations CSPI, the International Association of Consumer Food Organizations (IACFO) and other multinational nonprofits had with the soft drink industry, represented by PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and the International Council of Beverage Associations.
Pepsi’s policy still allows for the sale in high schools of non-caloric drinks and sports drinks such as Gatorade that have about half the calories of regular carbonated soft drinks, and it does not limit the portion sizes of fruit juice.
Coca-Cola also announced a new policy as a result of the campaign and negotiations. Its policy states that the company will “not offer any Coca-Cola products in primary schools,” but then notes that if school authorities request drinks “to meet hydration needs, [Coca-Cola] will endeavor to meet those requests.” Moreover, the global Coke policy explicitly allows for the sale of its sugary soft drinks in high schools across the globe, although it abandoned the practice in the United States and Canada in 2006 as a result of state and local pressure, and an agreement with the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation (spurred by the threat of litigation by CSPI and others).
Smaller regional and national companies represented by the International Council of Beverage Associations did not make any commitments to change their policies, but they represent a relatively small share of the global market.
With its new policy in place, Pepsi says it aims for full compliance by January 2012, noting that in some countries, parts of the distribution chain are out of its control. Conversely, Coca-Cola’s policy will go into effect in 2013, when the company says its existing beverage contracts with schools will expire. CSPI, IACFO and the World Heart Federation are now engaged in developing a monitoring system to ensure that the companies keep their promises.
Meanwhile, despite such progress, trade reports indicate that PepsiCo and Coca-Cola plan to boost overall sales of carbonated soft drinks (only a tiny percentage of which are sold in schools) around the world by more than 10 percent within the next four years. The companies are particularly targeting growing markets like India and China, so organizations like VOICE – and its partnership with CECHE and CSPI – will remain invaluable.
“We have our work cut out for us,” commented Bruce Silverglade, president of IACFO, which represented CSPI in the recent negotiations with the soft drink industry and contributed significantly to this article. “Cutting back on school sales is important, but the ultimate goal is to reduce carbonated soft drink consumption overall and to spare developing nations the harm that soft drinks have caused in North America and elsewhere.”
|Copyright © 2011 Center for Communications, Health and the Environment (CECHE)
Dr. Sushma Palmer, Program Director
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