Industry support for Michelle Obama’s anti-childhood-obesity task force

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 11th February 2010

Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move‘ campaign, launched yesterday by US President Obama, has gained support from America’s National Restaurant Association and the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation.

The campaign, aiming to tackle childhood obesity, will focus on “ensuring access to healthy, affordable food, increasing physical activity in schools and communities, providing healthier food in schools and empowering parents with information and tools to make good choices for themselves and their families.”

School lunch providers Aramark, Chartwells Educational Dining Services of Compass Group North America, and Sodexo all pledged to include more fruit, juice, vegetable, whole grain and milk options in school lunches, as well as reducing fat and sugar. Collectively, Aramark, Chartwells and Sodexo serve over 750 million school meals annually. The agreement will affect 135,000 students in the 2010-2011 school year alone. In addition, representatives estimate a potential increase of nearly 19 million meals conforming to standards outlined in the HealthierUS School Challenge. The school lunch providers expect to reach more than 2 million families with nutrition information.

Pepsico also pledged its support as a representative of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF), a group of more than 40 food industry heavyweights, including Kelloggs, Nestlé USA, The Coca-Cola Company, Kraft, IGA, Unilever, Sara Lee, Mars and many more. The foundation pledges to improve product labeling, explore reformulation and portion resizing, emphasise physical fitness and exercise and expand the Healthy Schools Partnership to provide nutritional and physical education for children.

For their part, Pepsico announced a new and more visible calorie labeling plan. “Major food companies such as PepsiCo are in a unique position to be leaders in health and wellness because of our resources, brands, research and development capabilities, consumer reach and logistics expertise,” said Pepsico chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi.