We couldn’t swallow former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s soda ban and other nanny state attempts to use government rules and regulations to change our eating habits.
But a conversation at the Newseum earlier this week about the role of the food and beverage industry in combating childhood obesity was a different matter.
What made this conversation welcome was that it dealt with voluntary efforts on the part of industry leaders to help change the public’s eating habits, especially in communities that are struggling with high rates of childhood obesity.
The event was hosted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF) and moderated by PBS’s Judy Woodruff.
Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo and Chair of HWCF, and Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, a medical doctor and President and CEO of RWJF, talked about voluntary work of HWCF member companies to help reverse the obesity trend.
It seems that five years ago, corporate leaders in the food industry took a pledge to make foods healthier and less fattening. Specifically, they pledged to eliminate 1.5 trillion calories from what they sold in the market place.
They have more than succeeded: the companies have removed 6.4 trillion calories from the marketplace—or 400 percent the original pledge. If you’re counting calories, that’s 78 per day for all of us. Sound small? If you remove just 78 calories a day from your diet, you’ll see it in your clothes in no time.
“I don’t think we want to become a nanny state. That was never — that should never be our goal, said Ms. Nooyi. The beauty of this program is that it blends commercial interests (companies want to make a profit and therefore products must taste good) and health interests.
Because it’s not government, if something doesn’t work, the company can quickly switch gears and try another formula. I
ff you’d like to listen to some of the conversation, PBS carried highlights.