OKC joins program aiming to drop beverage calorie consumption by 20 percent
While some cities have adopted soda taxes to curb consumption of sugary beverages, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett has joined with two food and beverage industry groups to launch a new initiative called Balance Calories Oklahoma.
The initiative is aimed at reducing beverage calories consumed per person in Oklahoma City by 20 percent nationally by 2025 with a motto of “Balanced What You Eat, Drink & Do.” The new program will include more visible calorie information where soda and other beverages are sold.
Berkley, Calif., was the first U.S. city to introduce a special tax on soda in March 2015. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that the new tax curbed soda consumption in that city by 21 percent and many residents switched to water after the tax went into effect. Philadelphia also is preparing to roll out a soda tax in January.
Cornett said the Balance Calories Oklahoma Initiative aims to preserve personal freedom, as well as work with business to find a solution to promote health, rather than a new tax.
“I still think people still need to have the ability to make their own decisions on how they consume their calories, but a lot of times that information is not easy to find,” Cornett said.
The Oklahoma Beverage Association, Oklahoma Grocers Association and the Oklahoma City-County Health Department launched the new program Monday.
The awareness program includes stickers and messages on vending machines, soda dispensers and drink coolers in convenience stores and restaurants encouraging local consumers to make healthier choices.
The awareness displays include calorie balance messages on coolers, vending machines and fountain equipment controlled by independent owners.
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Rickey Truelove, president of the Oklahoma Beverage Association and market unit general manager at Great Plains Coca-Cola Bottling, said the beverage industry is trying to offer more low-calorie beverages, as well as smaller portions to encourage health, in addition to public awareness campaigns.
“The Oklahoma Beverage Association is committed to being part of meaningful solutions to help strengthen our great state,” Truelove said.
“That's why we, as Oklahoma's leading beverage companies, are doing our part to help. We are reminding people to think about the calories in their beverages and offering Oklahomans a wider variety of beverage options than ever before so they can choose a drink that best fits their lifestyle.”