Oct 02, 2014 2:00 PM

Author: Office of Public Affairs

By 2025, three heavyweights of the soda industry plan to cut the number of beverage calories that Americans consume by 20 percent. But are those claims flat?

The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple Group promise to “provide consumers with more choices, smaller portions and fewer calories,” according to a statement released by the American Beverage Association, a trade group representing the soda industry.

Julie Metos, PhD, RD, an assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Utah College of Health, says consumers should take these claims with a grain of salt (or sugar, as the case may be).

Pay attention to the wording the companies use in their announcements, she says. These soda giants aren’t promising to slash sugar in their sugary soft drinks across the board or change their flagship formulas.

“Basically they’re just trying to change the landscape and just have different kinds of sugary drinks,” Metos says. “It could lead to more options, but what I’m worried about is the options will have the window dressing of a healthy product but won’t be as healthful.”

Americans have been drinking less soda in recent years, so Metos is not surprised that manufacturers would start marketing other kinds of beverages, such as flavored waters and energy drinks. “It shows the soda companies’ expertise in publicity and their prowess in marketing,” she says.

One change the soda companies say they’ll make is offering smaller portion sizes, which Metos calls “behavioral baby steps.” It’s a step in the right direction, but Metos says it’s important for shoppers to read the labels carefully when they’re at the grocery store, since calorie-laden drinks can have healthful-sounding names.

Your best bet? Just drink water, Metos says. It doesn’t have to be boring: Put it in a pitcher with ice and sliced fruit for a refreshing thirst quencher.

soda diet sugar

comments powered by Disqus

Sign Up for Weekly Health Updates

Get weekly emails of the latest news from HealthFeed.

For Patients

Find a doctor or location close to you so you can get the health care you need, when you need it