The Partnership for a Healthier America has received backing from both companies and the government to encourage everyone to enjoy this calorie-free beverage. In addition to her "Let's Move" initiative to combat childhood obesity, the First Lady is taking on the role of this organization's honorary chairperson.
Larry Soler, the partnership's president and chief executive, explains that the "drink up" water campaign is needed to counter the corn syrups and other sugars in soda that result in obesity. "That's exactly the type of impact we're glad to be seeing, and we want to accelerate that because we still have an enormous problem in this country with rates of obesity," Soler said.
Chiming in from his vantage point of executive director of "Let's Move," Sam Kass referred to federal statistics showing that about 40 percent of consumers drink less than half the typically recommended eight cups of water a day. Moreover, a fourth of kids below age 19 completely avoid plain water. However, said Kass, "Water is sort of our original energy drink," he said.
Although the First Lady has been accused of taking on the role of food police, Soler defended the campaign as focusing on the positive message of drinking more plain water rather than telling people what not to drink.
"Every participating company has agreed to only encourage people to drink water, not focus on what people shouldn't drink, not even talk about why they may feel their type of water is better than another," Soler said. "It's just `drink more water.'"
The plan calls for the campaign's logo, a blue water drop with the words "drink up" in white, to appear on millions of packages of bottled water, individual bottles of water themselves and reusable bottles, Soler said, as well as on more than 10,000 outdoor public drinking fountains.
Both the American Beverage Association, which represents the makers of soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, juices and juice drinks, and bottled water and water beverages, and the International Bottled Water Association support the campaign.