AMA announces policy changes on sugary drinks, obesity classification, and energy drinks

June 21, 2013

During the American Medical Association’s (AMA) annual meeting in Chicago, Ill., June 15–19, the nation’s largest physician organization passed policies concerning sugary drinks, obesity classification, and energy drinks.

Stimulant drinks have surged in popularity in recent years, especially among high school and college students, and health advocates are concerned about the use of these drinks among adolescents due to excessive amounts of caffeine. The FDA is continuing to investigate reports of illness, injury, or death of people who drank products marketed as “energy drinks” or “energy shots.” The AMA adopted policy supporting a ban of the marketing of high stimulant/caffeine drinks to adolescents under the age of 18.

“Energy drinks contain massive and excessive amounts of caffeine that may lead to a host of health problems in young people, including heart problems, and banning companies from marketing these products to adolescents is a common sense action that we can take to protect the health of American kids,” said AMA Board Member Alexander Ding.

In response, Maureen Beach, a spokeswoman for the American Beverage Association (ABA), said: “We are disappointed that the American Medical Association passed this resolution. Leading energy drink companies also voluntarily display total caffeine amounts—from all sources—on their packages, as well as an advisory statement indicating that the product is not intended (or recommended) for children.”

Additionally, the AMA announced it will work to remove sugar-sweetened beverages from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program and encourage state health agencies to include nutrition information in materials sent to SNAP recipients. SNAP is a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) service that offers food assistance to low income Americans.

Finally, the AMA adopted policy that recognizes obesity as a disease requiring a range of medical interventions to advance obesity treatment and prevention. “Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans,” said AMA board member Patrice Harris, “The AMA is committed to improving health outcomes and is working to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes, which are often linked to obesity.”

Obesity, energy drinks press release

SNAP press release