Less than a week after First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled the Childhood Obesity Task Force's action plan, the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF) has made its pledge to lower the calorie count of products manufactured by its members. As part of the Partnership for a Healthier America, HWCF has pledged to reduce its member products by 1.5 trillion calories by the end of 2015, a decrease HWCF member companies intend to sustain in subsequent years,
HWCF manufacturing companies, which include ConAgra Foods, Nestle USA, PepsiCo Inc. and more, will pursue their calorie reduction goal by developing and introducing lower-calorie options, changing recipes where possible to lower the calorie content of current products or reducing portion sizes of existing single-serve products. These calorie reductions are in comparison with what was available in the marketplace in 2008.
"The First Lady has shown tremendous leadership in calling for national action to end childhood obesity," said David Mackay, chair of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation and CEO of Kellogg Co. "Through this effort, the companies that make up the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation will provide consumers with additional healthier food options that help them achieve and maintain a healthy diet."
Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, issued a statement supporting the foundation's pledge:
We congratulate the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation for their leadership in reducing calories from the food supply. Such efforts will have tremendous impact on the caloric consumption of the entire population. This will assist the restaurant industry's efforts to support the goals of the First Lady's Let's Move initiative to reduce childhood obesity. The new and reformulated products will become part of the food supply chain, which is key to helping restaurants continue to increase healthy and nutritious offerings for our customers.
The HWCF is working to promote ways to help Americans achieve healthy weight by balancing the calories they consume with the energy they expend through physical activity. The foundation's initiative will give Americans options to reduce their calorie intake, improve their overall nutrition and close the imbalance between calorie consumption and activity many nutrition and health experts refer to as the energy gap.
Under the terms of the agreement, the HWCF will report annually to the partnership on the progress that it is making toward this pledge. The philanthropic Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), also will support a rigorous, independent evaluation of how the HWCF's efforts to reduce calories in the marketplace affect calories consumed by children and adolescents and will publicly report its findings.
As part of their effort to make healthier food available to Americans, HWCF members continue to take other steps to enhance the products in their portfolios — including adding vital nutrients such as fiber and whole grains as well as fruits and vegetables, and increasing the number of great-tasting, convenient and healthier options in the food supply. They will continue to meet the consumers' needs for taste, convenience and value.
The Partnership for a Healthier America, for which the First Lady serves as honorary chair, is an independent, non-partisan organization that is working to mobilize action around the specific goals of the Let's Move! campaign to curb child obesity within a generation. It is working to increase awareness and mobilize the private sector, foundations, thought leaders, media and communities around the effort to curb child obesity within a generation.
The HWCF is made up of 80 retailers, food and beverage manufacturers, sporting goods and insurance companies, trade associations and NGO. Its manufacturer members also include Bumble Bee Foods LLC, Campbell Soup Co., General Mills Inc., Kraft Foods Inc., Mars Inc., McCormick & Co. Inc., Post Foods/Ralston Foods LLC, Sara Lee Corp., The Coca-Cola Co., The Hershey Co., The J.M. Smucker Co. and Unilever.