AAP, AHA Endorse Suite of Public Polices to Reduce SSB Consumption

On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Heart Association (AHA) released a joint policy statement endorsing a suite of public health-related public policy approaches designed to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) among children. Citing an alarming increase in consumption of SSBs, AAP and AHA called for a comprehensive strategy to reduce appeal of these products in an attempt to prevent serious chronic disease conditions, including tooth decay, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

In its joint policy statement, AAP and AHA recommend:

  • Local, state, and national policymakers should consider raising the price of SSBs, such as through an excise tax, along with an accompanying educational campaign. Tax revenues should go, in part, toward reducing health and socioeconomic disparities.
  • Federal and state governments should support efforts to decrease SSB marketing to children and teens.
  • Health drinks, such as water and milk, should be the default beverages on children’s menus and vending machines, and federal nutrition assistance programs should ensure access to healthy food and beverages and discourage consumption of SSBs.
  • Children, adolescents, and their families should have ready access to credible nutrition information, including nutrition labels, restaurant menus, and advertisements.
  • Hospitals should serve a s a model to establish policies to limit or discourage purchase of SSBs.

In developing their public policy recommendations, AAP and AHA reference lessons learned from decades of work on tobacco control efforts, which have included excise taxes and limitations on marketing. The two organizations point to successful initiatives undertaken by local governments, including several jurisdictions in California, to reduce SSB consumption and direct excise tax revenues to community health-based programs.

Notably, the California Legislature has already passed or proposed a number of the AAP- and AHA-recommended policies, including requiring water and milk to be the default beverages of children’s meals. Other recommended policies have been proposed this legislative session through a package of bills that aim to impose an SSB fee, limit marketing and promotional incentives, and add warning labels to SSBs.

The full AAP- and AHA-endorsed public policies are available here.