It’s been two years since Michelle Obama launched her Let’s Move initiative with the aim of ending childhood obesity within a generation – and the First Lady claims that “we have begun to change the conversation about childhood obesity in America”.
Writing in a special Let’s Move anniversary edition of the journal Childhood Obesity, Mrs. Obama said: “We still have a long way to go in solving this problem,” but added that she was confident it would be solved with the leadership shown by organizations from every sector of society, including food manufacturers and retailers.
“Since we launched Let’s Move!, we’ve made significant progress – from providing our kids with healthier food and greater opportunities for physical activity in school and in their communities, to getting families the information they need to make healthier decisions, to ensuring that more people have access to healthy, affordable food,” she wrote.
She highlighted in particular manufacturers’ efforts to cut sugar, salt and fat from their products and, among other developments, the launch of the MyPlate icon.
“Parents are reading those food labels and rethinking the meals and snacks they serve to their kids.”
An accompanying paper highlights some of the specific initiatives developed by industry, including the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF), which has pledged to remove 1.5trn calories from the food supply by the end of 2015, through a combination of reducing portion sizes of single-serve products, providing more lower-calorie options, and reformulation. The HWCF has more than 170 members, including food and beverage manufacturers, retailers, NGOs, and trade organizations.
The food industry, including major trade organizations such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the American Beverage Association were quick to pledge their support to the Let’s Move cause in 2010, when GMA president and CEO Pamela Bailey said: “We agree that everyone has a role to play, including industry. We embrace our responsibility.”
Currently, about 17% of US children aged 2-19 are obese, and the rate has tripled since 1980, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.