Employers, Food Industry Play Vital Role in Curbing Obesity Epidemic

September 22, 2014 Employee Benefit News

By Michael Giardina

As the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, a consortium of companies that includes consumer staples such as Mars, Inc., Nestle USA, Bumble Bee Foods, General Mills, PepsiCo and the Coca-Cola Company, surpassed its goal of cutting calories from its food and beverage products, employers can also play a vital role in helping to solve nation’s obesity epidemic.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation states that HWCF surpassed its 2015 pledge by nearly 400% – resulting in a reduction of 78 calories per person in the U.S. per day. HWCF member companies have removed 6.4 trillion calories from their products, exceeding their 2010 pledge to First Lady Michelle Obama remove 1.5 trillion calories by 2015.

Lisa Gable, president of the HWCF, explains that the country’s largest food and beverage manufacturers and retailers were able to “do their part in addressing the obesity challenge” by focusing and collaborating resources for major educational campaigns.

In the workplace, similar pledges can assist in getting employees to improve overall health and physical fitness. LuAnn Heinen, vice president of the National Business Group on Health, says that most of its nearly 400 large employer members make this culture connection on a daily basis.


The Vitality Institute, the research arm of wellness vendor Vitality Group, projected in June that $303 billion can be saved through a healthier workforce should chronic disease prevention efforts become a norm. RWJF research estimates that the U.S. is spending about $2.7 trillion annually on health care, but these dollars are usually focused on treating disease and injury after they happen.

Derek Yach, executive director of the Vitality Institute, says this recent obesity pledge, and workplace health culture in general, is expected to expand. “I was left in no doubt that the CEOs of leading companies in the U.S. are building healthy food and activity programs into their overall health promotion efforts,” he says.

Yach highlights that HWCF’s “actions compliment what is needed in the workplace – making it easier for employees to find, afford and eat healthier foods.”

[For full article, click here.]

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