In the latest move emphasizing that they are fully on board the anti-obesity movement formalized by First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" initiative, major food and beverage manufacturers in the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF) have publicly pledged to slash a dramatic 1.5 trillion calories from their products by the end of 2015.
HWCF is a coalition of more than 80 retailers, food and beverage manufacturers, sporting goods and insurance companies, trade associations and non-governmental groups organizing and implementing various initiatives to "help American families reduce the calories they consume while increasing the calories they expend."
Participating manufacturers include Bumble Bee, Campbell Soup, ConAgra, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft, Mars, McCormick, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Post Foods/Ralston Foods, Sara Lee, Coca-Cola, Hershey, J.M. Smucker and Unilever.
To meet the new calorie-reduction goal, manufacturers have pledged to develop and introduce more lower-calorie options; change recipes, where possible, reduce calories in existing products, or reduce portion sizes of existing single-serve products. Calorie reductions will be benchmarked against products available in 2008.
Under the agreement, HWCF will report annually on its progress to The Partnership for a Healthier America, a non-partisan organization overseeing the "Let's Move" campaign, of which the First Lady is honorary chair. In addition, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the philanthropic organization devoted to improving Americans' health and healthcare, will "support a rigorous, independent evaluation" of and report on HWCF's progress in reducing calories in the marketplace consumed by children and adolescents, according to the coalition.
Earlier this month, HWCF announced a partnership with Discovery Education and Meredith Corp. to create an educational outreach campaign via three new separate but integrated Web sites, as well as a site partnership with the National Business Group on Health to provide small and mid-sized companies with employee wellness programs.
HWCF members have also launched employee wellness programs, and the coalition is participating in the Healthy Schools Partnership, which promotes nutrition and physical activity education in the schools.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association issued a statement applauding the HWCF pledge and reemphasizing the overall industry's commitment to "Let's Move" and its goals.