Michelle Obama has urged industry to work faster on reformulating products to make them healthier for kids, speaking at a Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) conference on Tuesday.
Obama launched the Let’s Move campaign last month to try and improve the health of American children, encompassing making healthy foods available to children and parents, nutrition education, and an increased focus on physical activity.
The First Lady praised GMA members for the progress they have made so far on reformulation and initiatives to reduce marketing of unhealthy foods to children.
“But I’m here today to urge all of you to move faster and to go farther, because the truth is we don’t have a moment to waste – because a baby born today could be less than a decade away from showing the first signs of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, if he or she is obese as a child,” she said.
Chairman of the GMA Richard Wolford said that the food industry is “an enthusiastic supporter” of the Let’s Move campaign and that GMA members have already made strides to make children’s products healthier.
He said in a statement: “In recent years, our companies have reduced calories, sugar, fat and sodium in more than 10,000 products. They have also enhanced the nutritional profile of many products with the addition of whole grains, fiber or other nutrients and created the informative and convenient 100-calorie pack.
“Food and beverage companies have changed the way they advertise and market their products – children under 12 now see significantly fewer food, beverage and restaurant ads on television. And at the same time, they are seeing more ads for soup, juice, fruit and vegetables.”
Addressing the GMA Science Forum, Obama said: “We need you not just to tweak around the edges, but to entirely rethink the products that you’re offering, the information that you provide about these products, and how you market those products to our children.
“That starts with revamping or ramping up your efforts to reformulate your products, particularly those aimed at kids, so that they have less fat, salt, and sugar, and more of the nutrients that our kids need.”
Childhood obesity is at record levels, with 32 percent of US children and adolescents overweight or obese, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.