An independent study released today confirms that 16 leading food and beverage companies sold 6.4 trillion fewer calories in the United States in 2012 compared to 2007, shattering a pledge to remove 1.5 trillion calories from the marketplace by 2015.
Acting together as the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, the 16 companies sold 54 trillion calories in packaged foods in 2012, down from 60.4 trillion calories in 2007, according to the evaluation funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The decline translates into a reduction of 78 calories per person in the U.S. per day
Childhood obesity and public health experts praised the findings as “extremely encouraging” and urged other companies to follow suit.
"The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation has taken action to successfully reduce calories available to consumers, providing a positive example of the influence that industry can have by working together,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “The American Heart Association commends the 16 companies that participated in this pledge and recognizes the significant impact of this collaboration — together these companies produce 36 percent of all packaged foods and beverages purchased by families across America.”
James Marks, senior vice president and director of the Health Group at RWJF, noted that the companies now must keep their pledge to sustain the reduction. “Other food companies should follow their lead to give Americans the lower-calorie foods and beverages they want,” he said.
More than 40 leading retailers, nonprofit organizations and food and beverage manufacturers launched the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation in 2009 with the goal of working together to reduce obesity rates by 2015. Sixteen companies announced in May 2010 they would work to remove 1 trillion calories from the marketplace by 2012 and 1.5 trillion calories by 2015.
To reduce the number of calories sold, companies developed a number of new, lower-calorie options for packaged foods and beverages such as cereals, canned soups and bottled drinks. Companies also reduced portion sizes for many products.
Along with helping to reduce calorie consumption, the lower-calorie products also were good for companies’ bottom lines, research shows. Companies with a higher percentage of their products from better-for-you foods and drinks recorded stronger sales growth and higher operating profits.
“The next big question is how these changes to what’s available on store shelves actually impact the health of children and families,” said C. Tracy Orleans, a senior scientist at RWJF.
Companies participating in the pledge included:
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Leaders are people who are actively working - either professionally or as volunteers - to change policies and environments to help children eat better and be more active. We use the following criteria to evaluate whether to approve an applicant for Leader status with the Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center.
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At least one item must be checked within each of the following two categories:
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Use pricing strategies to promote purchase of healthier foods
Use regulation/policy to reduce youth exposure to unhealthy food marketing
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Public Health Agencies
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If the applicant claims to work for an organization, at least one item must be checked below:
3. Applicant works for an organization:
Has an email address that matches the domain of the organization they list
Is listed on the organization website as staff
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