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Health Organizations Call for Tax on Sugary Drinks, but Not Flavored Milks

Apr 03, 2019

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Heart Association (AHA) issued a joint statement last week calling for policies to help curb the consumption of non-nutritious sugary drinks by children and adolescents. The organizations said public health policies should include excise taxes, set limits for marketing to children and create financial incentives that would encourage consumers to purchase healthier beverages and help kids and teenagers limit sugar intake.   

“It is important to note that the AAP and AHA statement clarified that flavored milks and 100-percent fruit juices are not considered to be sugary drinks,” said Cary Frye, IDFA senior vice president of regulatory affairs.

The statement defined sugary drinks as sugar-sweetened beverages or beverages containing added sugars. These beverages include, but are not limited to, regular soda, fruit drinks, sports and energy drinks, and sweetened coffees and teas.

The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that children and teens consume fewer than 10 percent of calories from added sugars. However, children and teens now consume 17 percent of their calories from added sugars—nearly half of which comes from drinks alone.

“For children, the biggest source of added sugars often is not what they eat, it’s what they drink,” said pediatrician Natalie D. Muth, MD, MPH, RDN, FAAP, lead author of the policy statement. “On average, children are consuming over 30 gallons of sugary drinks every year.”

AAP and AHS warned in their statement that these changes are needed as excess sugar consumption contributes to childhood and adolescent obesity, dental decay and higher risk for heart disease and other long-term health effects.

Building on lessons learned from decades of work on tobacco control efforts, the AAP and AHA endorsed, for the first time, recommended taxes on sugary drinks. Excise taxes on sugary drinks have recently been introduced in cities, including Berkeley, California, and Philadelphia, where the revenue generated by these taxes is reinvested in community programs.

Read the full policy statement here.

For more information, contact Frye at  

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