Companies and Groups Unite to Fight Obesity

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More than 40 companies, nonprofit groups, and trade organizations have combined forces to form the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, which is dedicated to helping reduce the level of obesity, especially childhood obesity, by 2015. The Foundation, which was launched on October 5, 2009, has committed $20 million to fight obesity on three fronts: in schools, the workplace, and the marketplace.

Indra Noovi, PepsiCo chairman and chief executive officer and vice chair of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, noted in a company press release that “We are driven by the belief that by joining forces with partners across many sectors, we can make a far greater impact in the fight to reduce obesity than by working alone.” Some of the other partners include Kellogg’s, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition Foundation, the American Dietetic Association Foundation, Girl Scouts of the USA, General Mills, Sara Lee, Nestle, National Wildlife Federation, and Safeway Inc., among others.

The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation will expand the current Healthy Schools Partnership to more schools in selected cities. The Healthy Schools Partnership helps fight childhood obesity through its integrated school-based curriculum that includes nutrition education and physical education. The program will incorporate body mass index measures, improved school lunches, and increased exercise on weekends in an effort to help children avoid obesity and other health issues. These efforts will be evaluated by the University of California at Berkeley, Center for Weight and Health.

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Part of the effort put forth by the food manufacturers will be seen in the changes they will make in their product offerings, packaging, and labeling. This may include offering consumers more reduced-calorie foods, smaller portions, placing calorie information on the front of products, and providing information and educational materials on healthy food choices and obesity.

In the workplace, participating companies plan to initiate or enhance existing programs to help employees fight obesity and achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Such efforts may include providing access to exercise activities or facilities, offering weight management programs, and providing healthier foods in workplace cafeterias and vending machines. Evaluations of efforts by companies will be conducted by National Business Group on Health.

The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation will soon announce a national public education campaign to help raise awareness about obesity and the importance of balancing a healthy diet with physical activity. The Foundation is especially focusing on children ages six to 11 and their parents and caregivers. For more information visit the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation website.

SOURCES:
Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation
PepsiCo

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