Can The Private Sector Chart A Healthier Course?

June 27, 2014 Kera News

BY 

Can companies like Unilever and Pepsi help make us healthier? This week at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado, corporate insiders reflect on their role in creating a healthy society.

For five years, Derek Yach pushed to make PepsiCo – the brand behind munchies like Lays and Cheetos – a producer of healthier, lower sodium, lower sugar foods and beverages. The responses were both sweet and salty.

“There are parts of a company where the support and awareness of the needs to change are very high,” Yach reflects. “But of course there were many who isolated me.”

Yach was brought on by Pepsico’s CEO, Indra Nooyi who he says saw the potential of a multinational to influence public health with different products.

“While I was there I saw the growth of hummus,” Yach says, “The launch of dairy products for the first time yogurt, and we saw a range of other healthier products being tested.”

Still, the company wasn’t willing to invest as much into research and new products as Yach had hoped. Derek Yach worked at Pepsi for five years, now he’s with The Vitality Institute, a research organization focused on health promotion and prevention.

Still, the company wasn’t willing to invest as much into research and new products as Yach had hoped. Yach is now with a health research group called The Vitality Institute, but says unlikely companies are coming together with an interest in health and prevention.

“They include companies like Samsung, Microsoft, General Electric, small startups,” he says. “They’re looking of a root to profitability through new products to promote better health, through whether its devices or smart phones or alerts or adherence. And they’re looking at how it’s going to benefit the bottom line and people’s personal health.”

[To access full article and radio clip of the story, click on the Kera News link, above.]

Photo credit: Lauren Silverman/KERA News

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