Nutrition-wise blog

Industry reacts to attacks on sugar-sweetened drinks

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. February 6, 2013

With research linking sugary drinks to unwanted pounds, poor diets and health concerns, are soda companies soul searching or finding ways to maintain sales?

Consider these recent developments:

  • Soda sales declined in 2012. Volume dropped 1.8 percent overall. In the last quarter of 2012, the decline was 3.5 percent.
  • Manufacturers are acquiring and marketing a wider variety of beverages, including sports drinks, fruit juices, "real" sugar and lower-sugar beverages, low-calorie and no-calorie drinks, as well as various teas, coffees and bottled waters. One manufacturer touts that it offers 180 different low- and no-calorie beverages out of its more than 650 products.
  • Beverage companies are releasing ad campaigns to raise awareness about what steps they've taken to address obesity. The ads emphasize the importance of taking personal responsibility for balancing "calories in" with "calories out" (through increased physical activity). These campaigns also make the point that excess calories in any form — not just sugary drinks — can lead to obesity.

What does it all this mean?

  • Are companies seeing the light of declining sales — and doing anything they can to continue to push liquified sugar down our throats?
  • Are they seeing the light, turning the corner and leveraging their formidable industry to deliver new beverages that could contribute to health?
  • Are they turning the spotlight on consumers by highlighting that what we drink is really our personal responsibility?

There are no clear answers to these questions. Only time will tell if the makers of sugar-sweetened beverages will be viewed as having been part of the problem or part of the solution.

Your thoughts?

Jennifer

5 Comments Posted

Feb. 06, 2013