It looks like the food and beverage industry is finally getting some acknowledgement for the positive role they are playing in the fight against obesity. Three years ago, sixteen of the major players in this industry including Coca-Cola, General Mills, Nestle, Kraft and ConAgra, partnered with Michelle Obama s Partnership for a Healthier America as the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, and pledged to reduce the number of calories sold to Americans by 1.5 trillion. Their original goal was to accomplish this by 2015, but today they announced that they have already achieved this goal, with room to spare. And perhaps not coincidentally this announcement comes at a time when we have started to see declines in the rates of obesity in this country.
The participating food companies have been successful in reducing portion sizes of products, altering recipes to meet nutrition goals and formulating lower calorie options. And consumers have responded favorably as illustrated by the $1.25 billion they ve spent on these lower calorie options four times more than the amount spent on the higher-calorie versions. Furthermore, companies (foremost amongst them, Coca-Cola) have also embarked on advertising campaigns in which they promote healthy lifestyles. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that soda companies sent fewer calories to schools, mostly through a 97 percent reduction in full-calorie soda shipments.
Indra Nooyi, chair of the HWCF and CEO of PepsiCo says, Our industry has an important role to play in helping people lead healthy lives and our actions are having a positive impact. We see continued opportunities to give consumers the choices they re looking for and to work collaboratively with the public and non-profit sectors on initiatives that enable continued progress.
ACSH s Ariel Savransky adds, This really shows the important role that industry is already playing in the fight against obesity. It also highlights the importance of collaboration among all sectors to make progress against this epidemic, and progress is clearly being made.