Counting Calories

Friday, February 25, 2011

Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Sceery

Often times when consumers think about counting calories or evaluating nutritious choices, beverages are not the first thing that comes to mind. However, in a recent press release, the American Beverage Association announced that the new Clear Calorie Initiative could be found in stores across the nation. The association announced that as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, beverage companies will now display calorie labels on the front of non-alcoholic beverages (as opposed to the traditional label on the back).

Well- known companies such as Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, and Honest Tea are all taking part in the initiative to provide consumers the ability to make informed nutritious choices easier. This new concept is a big step in moving toward reducing obesity and helping consumers to make smarter decisions. By providing easier access to information on beverage labels it may help consumers to compare beverages and choose a healthier option that they may not have otherwise. In addition, the press release also highlighted that not only would calories be distributed on labels, but also present in vending machines and fountain drinks. Interestingly, these two areas could have a major impact on forcing people to make informed decisions. Typically when choosing drinks form either a vending machine or fountain machine, caloric information may not be known (or a concern for that matter). However, if the numbers are there and the information is there…it sometimes makes choosing the unhealthy option a little harder.

Although this initiative appears to be a step in the right direction, it is also important not to forget about other nutrition facts or ingredients of beverages. Calories are certainly not the only factor in determining nutritious choices; don’t forget to consider factors such as sugars, fat content, and sodium.