Calorie Counting Victory: 1.5 Trillion Not Served?

This week, the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF) — an alliance of leading food and beverage companies — held a calorie counting party. Three years ago the HWCF committed to cut 1.5 trillion calories from the American food supply by 2015. And this week they announced they met and surpassed the goal two years early.

The only trouble is, if you want to see actual data, you’ll need to wait until fall when an independent report will be issued. That analysis will come from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Putting a happy, but cautious, face on the news was James Marks, Senior Vice President at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:

We hope the independent evaluation will confirm what the companies stated today – and, further, that these changes will help our children to achieve a healthy weight.

First Lady Michelle Obama spurred the formation of the HWCF through her Let’s Move initiative to reverse the trends of childhood obesity. And as Marks noted, it “is a great example of industry leaders who have publicly committed to help reduce obesity, especially childhood obesity.”

Reaction to this fact-free story was mixed. Industry critic Marion Nestle was understandably skeptical. “Really? Where are the data? On what basis does the group make this claim?”

Forbes published an effusive commentary that took the HWCF claim and added some hyperbole. The headline declared that the HWCF was cutting 1.5 trillion calories and accelerating the obesity rate decline. But for the most part, top tier news media ignored the story. Give them credit for discernment.

We hope the HWCF can succeed in bringing substantive change to the food supply. It just doesn’t seem smart to announce “Mission Accomplished” before the facts are in.

Click here to read the press release from the HWCF, click here to read the commentary from Marion Nestle, and click here to read the commentary in Forbes.

Abacus, photograph © Jenny Downing / flickr

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