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Groups unite to fight US obesity

By Shane Starling , 05-Oct-2009
Last updated on 05-Oct-2009 at 17:52 GMT

About forty companies and partner organizations have united to battle obesity in the US – especially among children.

Food giants PepsiCo and Kellogg’s are among the companies that have joined with the likes of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition Foundation, the American Dietetic Association Foundation, Girl Scouts of the USA and others in a three-prong marketplace, workplace and schools attack on America’s obesity problem.

The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF) aims to assist individuals such as 6-11 year olds balance calorie intake and outtake with a reduction in the level of obesity aimed for by 2015.

Founding members have committed $20m to the program that will be independently monitored by auditors that will produce public reports about their findings.

"For our part, we are committing to enhancing our efforts to offer food and beverage choices that can contribute to healthy weight. To do that, we'll offer more reduced-calorie and portion-controlled options," said Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo chairman and chief executive officer and HWCF vice chair.

"At the same time we will do more to educate people, particularly children, about balancing the calories they consume with those that they burn."

Retailers such as Safeway and United Supermarkets are also involved in the initiative.

Aggressive

Nooyi’s compatriot at Kellogg Company, David Mackay, said the program would be as pro-active and visible as possible.

"Our industry is uniquely positioned to serve as a catalyst for addressing the very complex, global problem of obesity,” he said.

“The HWCF plan that is emerging is aggressive—exactly what we need to make an impact on an issue so important to the overall health and well-being of adults and children. We already know that the solution lies in helping individuals achieve energy balance and that behavior and environment play a key role. It will be critical to inspire others to join with us to commit for the long term."

The initiatives include:

 

  • Marketplace. Improving calorie and nutrition information on products, packaging and labeling easier for consumers to understand. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) will act as independent monitor.
  • Workplace. New schemes to be put in place to “empower employees” to practice energy balance, learn about diet and fitness and provide them with weight-goal incentives.
  • The National Business Group on Health will evaluate.
  • Schools. Expand on Healthy Schools Partnership program that integrates nutrition and exercise programs into school curriculums. The program will incorporate body mass index (BMI) measures, better school lunches and increased exercise at weekends. The University of California at Berkeley Center for Weight and Health will evaluate.

 

Other members include Nestlé USA, General Mills, Coca-Cola, Kraft, Mars, ConAgra Foods and the Food Marketing Institute.

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