Making Meaningful Commitments to Fight Childhood Obesity

In my work with the Partnership for a Healthier America, I recognize the great task that we have taken on – to mobilize broad-based support for efforts to solve the childhood obesity challenge and facilitate commitments toward the First Lady’s national target of solving childhood obesity within a generation, the goal of her Let's Move! campaign. Yesterday, we announced an agreement with the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF) that takes an important first step toward this goal.

Through this agreement, HWCF manufacturing companies have pledged to take action to reduce 1.5 trillion product calories by 2015, and will seek to reduce 1 trillion by 2012 alone. HWCF manufacturers will pursue these calorie-reduction goals by developing lower-calorie options, changing recipes where possible to lower the calorie content of current products, and reducing portion sizes of existing single-serve products. For children and families, this is great news. All of these changes are aimed to help Americans reduce their calorie intake, improve their overall nutrition, and close the “energy gap,” an imbalance in the number of calories consumed versus calories expended.

Accountability is key to this agreement. To ensure that HWCF stands by its pledge, the Partnership will work with the organization and the data it collects to monitor progress toward these goals on an annual basis. Also, to assess the impact of the pledge, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will support a rigorous, independent evaluation of how HWCF’s efforts to reduce calories in the marketplace affect calories consumed by children and adolescents, and will publicly report the findings.

Caloric reduction efforts like this – with targeted and achievable results that are meaningful and measurable – can have a significant impact on the obesity trend. We look forward to seeing the many positive results of this agreement as we work together to solve the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation.

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S. Lawrence Kocot is the interim president and CEO of the Partnership for a Healthier America

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