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The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF) has further joined forces with First Lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America by a pledge to reduce 1.5 trillion calories by the end of 2015 — a decrease HWCF member companies plan to keep up in subsequent years.
HWCF manufacturing companies will work toward this goal by developing and introducing lower-calorie options, altering recipes where possible to lower the calorie content of current products, or reducing portion sizes of existing single-serve products. The calorie reductions are in comparison with what was available on the market in 2008.
A first-of-its kind coalition uniting over 80 retailers, food and beverage manufacturers, among them Kellogg, Campbell Soup Co., ConAgra Foods, General Mills, Kraft Foods, Mars; PesiCo, Coca-Cola, Hershey Foods and Unilever; sporting goods and insurance companies; trade associations; and NGOs, the HWCF is working to help Americans achieve healthy weight by balancing the energy (calories) they consume with the energy they expend through physical activity. The independent, nonpartisan Partnership for a Healthier America, for which Mrs. Obama is honorary chair, aims to reverse the child obesity trend within a generation through the recently introduced “Let’s Move!” campaign.
“The First Lady has shown tremendous leadership in calling for national action to end childhood obesity,” said David Mackay, HWCF chair and CEO of Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg Co. “Through this effort, the companies that make up the [foundation] will provide consumers with additional healthier food options that help them achieve and maintain a healthy diet.”
In remarks praising the latest collaboration between the food producers and the First Lady, Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, pointed out that CPG companies have already been working to alleviate the obesity problem for several years. “Over the last several years, our industry has already improved the nutritional profile of more than 10,000 product options to reduce sugar, fats, calories and sodium. And we’re not just making our foods healthier,” Bailey noted. “More nutritional education is an essential key to healthy living. We’ve also made a commitment to share more information about foods than ever before. We want consumers to feel confident in the choices they make to help their families build and maintain healthy lifestyles.”
Of the calorie-reduction pledge itself, Bailey said, “We embrace this responsibility and we promise to continually improve.”
Under the agreement, the HWCF will report annually to the partnership on the progress being made toward the pledge. Additionally, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the nation’s largest philanthropic ogranization devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of Americans, will fund a rigorous, independent evaluation of how the HWCF’s efforts affect the calories actually consumed by children and adolescents.
“RWJF has had extensive conversations with the leadership of HWCF, and we’re confident their commitment to this cause is sincere and measurable — and thus has real potential for impact,” said RWJF president and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey. “What remains unknown is what effect it will have on efforts to prevent childhood obesity …. RWJF will support an evaluation by an independent group of scientists who will define the metrics that will be used to track progress and assess the overall impact on children, and we will report the methods and findings publicly.”
Additional efforts adopted by the HWCF include adding such nutrients as fiber and whole grains, and fruits and vegetables, and raising the number of tasty, convenient and better-for-you options in the food supply, while continuing to meet consumers’ need for value.
“America’s food and beverage companies have a strong track record of innovation and providing consumers with healthier products,” noted HWCF executive director Lisa Gable. “With this initiative, they are moving farther and faster. The foundation’s member companies are giving Americans tools to reduce calorie consumption.”