People in five targeted communities across America are consuming fewer calories from beverages thanks to a national partnership between the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the American Beverage Association, The Coca-Cola Company, Keurig Dr Pepper and PepsiCo.

The Beverage Calories Initiative (BCI) launched in 2014 with the goal of reducing Americans’ calories consumed from beverages by 20 percent by 2025. The single-largest voluntary effort by an industry to help fight obesity aims to educate Americans about the low- and no-calorie beverage choices available to them, and to partner with retailers to diversify the drinks they offer.

According to an independent report released last week, 2017 was the first year since the program’s inception that declines have been reported across all five measured communities – Little Rock, Ark.; East Los Angeles, Calif.; New York City’s South Bronx and Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights neighborhoods; Montgomery and Lowndes counties in Alabama; and Coahoma, Panola, Quitman and Tunica counties in the Mississippi Delta.

In these communities – which were selected as especially challenging areas for beverage calorie reduction – the pace of calorie reduction per person in 2017 was ahead of the needed pace to achieve each community goal. Progress in each market is measured against its own baseline year based on when implementation began.

The analysis shows that the rate of decline in the five communities – from 5.4% in Montgomery-Lowndes, Ala., to 2.2% in East L.A. – exceeded the national rate and is similar to the national findings in that progress towards the BCI goals continues at its strongest rate yet. The decreases were driven by a boost in sales of no- and low-calorie beverages and a decrease in sales of full- and mid-calorie beverages.

“The latest findings highlight the positive impact that can come from collaborations rooted in data,” said Anne Ferree, chief strategy and partnership officer at Healthier Generation. “It also shows the power of community agency and a commitment to creating healthier environments and ultimately healthier communities.”

Mark Hammond, interim CEO, executive vice president and CFO of the American Beverage Association, added, “America’s leading beverage companies share the goal of strong, healthy families and communities, which is why we are working in neighborhoods and nationally to help people cut the sugar and calories they get from beverages by providing them more choices with less sugar and zero sugar, smaller package sizes and clear calorie information. We believe everyday consumers are best served when private industry, government and public health groups work together to have a meaningful, sustainable impact.”