RODALE NEWS, WASHINGTON, DC—What does it mean when First Lady Michelle Obama announces that a group of food and beverage manufacturers are going to take 1.5 trillion calories out of the yearly American food supply by 2015, 1 trillion of them by 2012?
Actually, no one really knows. But we can hope that if those calories are no longer available, it might help children maintain a healthy weight and, consequently, that Mrs. Obama’s pledge to reduce childhood obesity in a generation will have a better chance of coming true.
THE DETAILS: Sixteen food and beverage companies have made the calorie-ridding pledge, in response to a speech Mrs. Obama gave in March to a food industry association. At that event, she urged the industry it to speed up its efforts to produce healthier foods, and to reduce marketing of unhealthy foods to children. And, while they were at it, to increase the nutritional value of the food. Agreeing to cut the calories is an opportunity for the food industry, concerned about local sugar taxes and increasing congressional interest in writing antiobesity legislation, to stave off regulations while getting on board with the first lady’s Let’s Move initiative.
At a news conference Monday, Mrs. Obama introduced the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, a coalition of 80 retailers, food and beverage manufacturers, and industry trade associations. The calorie-cutting companies, members of the foundation, include some of the country's largest manufacturers, such Pepsi, Coke, Kellogg, Kraft Foods, and Campbell Soup (see the end of this article for the full list), and they have pledged to lower calories from fat and sugar in their products by offering lower-calorie options, changing recipes to reduce fat and sugar, or reducing portion sizes of existing single-serving products.
“This is precisely the kind of private-sector commitment we need,” Mrs. Obama said.
Marian Burros reports on Michelle Obama's anti-obesity campain:
Michelle Obama Unveils Plan to End Childhood Obesity
Michelle Obama Moves, and Is Moved by, Schoolkids
Secret Weapon for Fighting Childhood Obesity: Children
White House Garden Grows; School Lunch Budget Shrinks
The 1.5 trillion figure is based on statistics that show Americans consume 6 trillion more calories a year than they expend. That amounts to about 100 to 165 calories per person, per day. The 16 companies account for 20 to 25 percent of those excess calories. The new coalition has joined forces with The Partnership for a Healthier America, which works with Mrs. Obama, the honorary chair, to advance Let’s Move!
Published on: May 18, 2010
Updated on: May 19, 2010