of big food companies sold 6.4 trillion fewer calories in the
United States in 2012 than in 2007, an independent evaluator
said in a report on the pledge manufacturers made to First
Lady Michelle Obamaís program to end childhood obesity.
decline is a reduction of 78 calories per person, per day in
the U.S., the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation said in a
foundation, which funded the evaluation, said the companiesí
efforts far exceeded their 2010 promise: to remove 1.5
trillion calories from the U.S. marketplace by 2015.
good news for both the companies that made these changes and
for the American public," said Dr. James Marks, senior
vice president of the foundation and director of its health
companies are now better positioned than their
competitors" to provide lower-calorie products, Marks
said. The 16 participating companies include PepsiCo,
Coca-Cola, Unilever, Kellogg and ConAgra Foods.
does it mean for consumers?
companies wanted to show they wanted to be part of the
solution, not part of the problem," Marks said. The
effort, led by chief executives of the companies and called
the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, "is not
altruism. It is also being helpful to the companies
companies are responding to demand for products that are what
the industry calls "better for you" ó some
lower-calorie and others repackaged in smaller portions, such
as 100-calorie snack packs.
Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University, author
and frequent critic of the food industry, called the reduction
a step in the right direction but added that itís important
to see all the data and to learn how the changes are playing
out in homes.
Grocery Manufacturers Association said in a statement that its
members had "accelerated our efforts to provide consumers
with the products, tools and information they need to achieve
and maintain a healthy diet," including more than 20,000
products introduced since 2002 with fewer calories; less fat,
salt and sugar; and more whole grains, as well as changes in
labeling and advertising.
critics say that the work of the Healthy Weight Commitment
Foundation also helps companies avoid regulation and that
calorie reductions donít necessarily mean more healthful
need to pay attention to the quality of their calories as well
as the total, said Andy Bellatti, a registered dietitian.
"A 100-calorie pack of Cheetos, after all, is not a
better choice than a 130-calorie apple."
Nestle noted that the countryís obesity epidemic resulted
from about a 300-calorie-a-day increase across the adult
population, and itís estimated it will take about the same
to reverse it. "If thatís the case, 78 calories is a
step in that direction," she said.
changes are early and fragile, Marks said, but there are
positive signs that the obesity epidemic is slowing. No one
thing caused it, he said ó citing reductions in gym classes,
larger soda sizes and lack of sidewalks ó and no one thing
will cure it.