Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper will work to cut beverage calories in the American diet 20% by 2025 by promoting bottled water, low-calorie drinks and smaller portions.  The pledge makes a rare commitment by beverage makers in the fight against obesity at a time when the industry is under increasing scrutiny of it products.  Drink-makers opposed a cap on sugary drink portions in NYC, and are trying to stop a new tax on sugary drinks that San Francisco residents will vote on in November.


Under the voluntary agreement, the companies said they would market and distribute their drinks in a way that should help steer consumers to smaller portions and zero-or-low-calorie drinks.  They also have committed to providing calorie counts on more than 3 million vending machines, self-serve fountain dispensers and retail coolers.


Americans have already scaled back on soda as consumers get more health-conscious about diseases like diabetes, eroding the industry’s bottom line.  U.S. per capita soda consumption has fallen since peaking in 1998, and calories from soda contracted 23% between 2000 and 2013, industry tracker Beverage Digest estimates.

The move is an implicit acknowledgement by the soda industry that longtime staples like Coke, Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper have played a role in rising obesity rates.  Atlanta-based Coke has said in the past that Americans should exercise more, not drink less sugary soda.


The agreement, announced in March, was struck between the American Beverage Association and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the American Heart Association and The Clinton Foundation.


About a third of adults and nearly one-fifth of children in the U.S. qualify as obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a longtime soda critic, called the move “welcome news” but said the goal could be achieved much faster.


Mike Esterl, The Wall Street Journal