Long identified as some of the premiere culprits behind our nation’s surge toward obesity, some of the big guys in the food industry have pledged to trim trillions of calories from their products to help address the problem of overflowing waistlines. Among the participants are General Mills Inc., Campbell Soup Co., Kraft Foods Inc., Nestle USA, Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc., and Hershey Co.
Certainly the effort is noteworthy. But before we burst with gratitude, let’s recall that these are the same folks who helped create the problem. Anyone who must slash trillions of anything to help resolve a problem is probably addressing one heck of a problem. Having said that, let’s move along.
The Results Are In
In 2010, 16 companies took a pledge to cut one trillion calories from their products by 2012 and 1.5 trillion calories by 2015. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation agreed to monitor the effort and hired researchers from the University of North Carolina to determine the calories in all packaged items in grocery stores.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently released their findings and reported that the participating food companies sold 6.4 trillion fewer calories in 2012 than they did in 2007. The number of calories cut translates into a reduction of 78 calories per day for each and every American.How Did They Do It?
A legitimate question to ask. The answer is… well, we’re not sure just yet.
Companies vowed to substitute lower-calorie products, modify existing products to reduce calories, and reduce portion sizes when they took the pledge to bring those artery-blocking numbers under control. Beverage companies are producing drinks that have both sugar and artificial sweeteners in them. The lesser amount of sugar helps reduce the number of calories; although, artificial sweeteners do not exactly have a stellar reputation.
Another factor that could be contributing to the calorie decline is the effect the recent recession is having on consumers. Financially challenged families are cutting back on purchases of junk food.
The most heartening possibility could be parenting intervention. The biggest reduction in calories was in households where there are young children. The conclusion is that parental regulation over what their children eat is reducing consumption of high-calorie foods.
What Does It All Mean?
Another good question that has an answer similar to the first question. What it all means is yet to be determined. Seventy-eight less calories per day per person means 546 less calories per week, which in turn means 28,000 less calories per person per year. The end result is an eight pound weight loss. These numbers should reflect some degree of reversal in the overall obesity rate. While that has not happened, there has been a leveling off of growing obesity rates.
The data and how it was collected has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Published On: March 10, 2014