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updated 9/23/2014 4:16:20 PM ET 2014-09-23T20:16:20

Three large soda companies say they want Americans to cut the number of calories they get from drinking their sugary beverages.

Today (Sept. 23), Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple Group announced they have set a shared goal to reduce the number of calories consumed per person from sugary beverages by 20 percent over the next 10 years, according to a statement from the American Beverage Association.

Although the number of calories in a regular soda will not change, the companies plan to take actions such as selling small portion sizes, and boosting the marketing of low- and no-calorie beverages (such as water and diet beverages) to reduce the total number of calories consumed from beverages, the statement said.

The announcement was made in New York at a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, a nonprofit organization established by former President Bill Clinton. [ 9 Snack Foods: Healthy or Not?]

"I am excited about the potential of this voluntary commitment by the beverage industry. It can be a critical step in our ongoing fight against obesity," Clinton said in a statement.

However, some advocacy groups said the action was not enough.

"We applaud President Clinton for his efforts. But we need much bigger and faster reductions to adequately protect the public's health," Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest, said in a statement.

Taxes on soda — which the beverage industry opposes — could reduce the number of calories American's consume from beverage even more quickly, Jacobson said. Warning labels placed on sugary drinks that raise people's awareness about the drinks' effects on their health would also accelerate progress, he said.

Follow Rachael Rettner@RachaelRettner. FollowLive Science@livescience,Facebook&Google+. Original article on Live Science.

© 2012 LiveScience.com. All rights reserved.

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