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The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF), a 160-member organization with the goal of reducing obesity, particularly in children, has rolled out the “Together Counts” program. The national initiative encourages families to eat meals together and take part in physical activities together to help fight obesity and promote good health.
Families will receive with tools to track their progress and compare their results with those in their communities and across the United States. For example, through a family profile page, families will be able to log results and points earned. The program will also offer rewards and incentives as positive reinforcement. A tie-in website, www.togethercounts.com, features tips and advice to spur participation, as well as a mobile app enabling participants to log and track their progress anywhere. The program also has a presence on social media outlets Facebook and Twitter.
“Families that eat together and share regular physical activities are happier and healthier,” noted Lisa Gable, executive director of Washington-based Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF). “A family meal or a family activity is a teachable moment -- an opportunity to pass on healthy habits to children. When families eat and engage in physical activity together, parents get the opportunity to teach in the most effective way possible -- by example, on a regular basis.”
The campaign aims to encourage energy balance between calories consumed and calories expended as a way to reduce obesity, by drawing on the strength of families.
“Lifelong healthy eating habits begin at home," said PepsiCo chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi, who chairs the foundation. "When children see their parents eating a balanced diet and engaging with them in regular physical activity, they receive a life lesson, one that is reinforced daily within the family."
Together Counts shares an objective with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” Campaign, which has challenged families to be among the first to garner a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) by taking part in physical activity five days a week, for six weeks.
“Kids derive strength from their parents,” observed Ric Jurgens, chairman and CEO of West Des Moines Hy-Vee and HWCF vice-vhair. “When they engage in physical activity together, or share meals together, kids draw the resolve and discipline they need to keep at it.”
Together Counts is one of several HWCF efforts aimed at lowering obesity through the concept of energy balance.
The HWCF consists of 160 retailers, food and beverage manufacturers, restaurants, sporting goods and insurance companies, two professional sports organizations, NGOs, trade associations, and the U.S. Army. Grocery retailers and trade groups involved in the foundation are Brookshire Grocery Co., Festival Foods (Minnesota), Food City, the Food Marketing Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Harris Teeter, Hy-Vee, Jax Markets, Martin’s Supermarkets, MilkPEP, the National Confectioners Association, the National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association, Price Chopper, Produce for Better Health Foundation, Redner’s Markets, Schnuck Markets, Shop Rite of Hunterdon Co., Skogen’s Festival Foods, the Snack Foods Association, United Supermarkets and Wakefern Food Corp.