Health groups take on sugary drink industry, endorse major health reform

March 31, 2019

The American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics are partnering to endorse sweeping public health measures that aim to reduce children’s consumption of sugary drinks.

“For children, the biggest source of added sugars often is not what they eat, it’s what they drink,” said pediatrician Natalie D. Muth, lead author of the policy statement in a press release. “On average, children are consuming over 30 gallons of sugary drinks every year. This is enough to fill a bathtub, and it doesn’t even include added sugars from food.”

According to research collected by Brennan Meagher of the CSRA American Heart Association, people in the U.S. consume about 34 pounds of added sugar each year from drinks like sodas and sweetened tea.

This sky-rocketing sugar intake has a variety of negative impacts on pediatric health, such as childhood obesity, tooth decay, diabetes and early-onset heart disease.

The goal of the health reform between the two organizations is to limit children’s access to abundant sugary drinks. The actions proposed in the reform include excise taxes, limits on marketing to children and financial incentives for purchasing healthier beverages.

The AHA and the AAP are drawing parallels between the sugary drink industry and the tobacco industry, particularly in regards to marketing toward children.

According to the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, beverage companies spent $866 million on marketing in 2013, and children and adults are, on average, seeing at least one advertisement for a soda a day.

The AHA and the AAP are claiming the “disproportionately” low cost of sugary drinks especially affects children from low-income communities. It is part of the reason why they are calling for a tax increase on sodas and drinks with high amounts of added sugar.

Other cities that have already passed excise taxes on sugary drinks include San Francisco, Seattle, Albany and Philadelphia.

To learn more about the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatric’s stance on this issue, visit newsroom.heart.org.

To view low-sugar alternatives for drinks like Summer Limeade and Raspberry-Basil Iced Tea, visit recipes.heart.org.