An event I recently attended got me thinking about the fight against obesity. We work hard at UnitedHealthcare to educate adults and children on the importance of healthy lifestyle choices and develop new programs and initiatives to help make those choices easier. But it’s a nationwide epidemic, which means it will take a nationwide effort from all kinds of companies to really put an end to obesity.
At this event, I had the opportunity to talk with Doug Conant, chief executive officer of Campbell’s Soup and Denise Morrison, the president of Campbell’s North America, who I’ve come to know.
Doug and Denise are really focused on engaging the employees at Campbell’s in a team effort to create good tasting, more nutritious products. They know foods have to be delicious or consumers won’t buy them, but they also know the importance of giving consumers the option to make healthier choices. That’s why everyone at Campbell’s is working together to find ways to maintain the quality of they’re products while improving nutritional value, especially by reducing sodium levels.
And Campbell’s isn’t the only company making the shift to healthier goods. Especially now that First Lady Michelle Obama has launched her “Let’s Move” campaign to battle childhood obesity, more and more major players in the food industry are pledging to do their part and improve the nutritional value of their products.
Take Pepsi for example, which recently pledged to reduce sugar by 25 per cent, salt by 25 per cent and saturated fat by 15 per cent in its soda drinks and other products by 2015. The company also announced that it plans to remove all its sugary drinks from schools worldwide by 2010 and add new healthier products to its roster of Pepsi, Tropicana, Gatorade, Frito Lay and Quaker goods that include more whole grains, fiber, fruit, vegetables, key vitamins and minerals.
Kraft Foods made a similar announcement. The company, which is the largest food maker in North America, said it plans to cut sodium levels in its North American products, including Oreo, Jell-O, Chips Ahoy!, Oscar Meyer, Ritz and Velveeta brands, by about 10 percent over the next two years -- eliminating more than 10 million pounds, or 750 million teaspoons of salt!
If more food and beverage makers, restaurants and other companies throughout the U.S. step up to the plate, I know we can put a stop to these deadly rates of obesity. As long as we keep working to develop new products, encourage healthy choices and educate consumers on the importance of nutrition and exercise, we can have a healthier America.