Processors put food items on diet
WASHINGTON — Some of the nation's largest food companies have cut daily calorie counts by an average of 78 per person, a new study says, more than four times the amount the industry pledged to slash by next year.
The study, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found that between 2007 and 2012, the estimated total cut in food product calories from a group of 16 major food companies was in the range of 6.4 trillion.
Seventy-eight calories would be about the same as an average cookie or a medium apple, and the federal government estimates an average daily diet at about 2,000 calories. The study said the calories cut averaged out to 78 calories per day for the nation's entire population.
The 2010 pledge taken by the companies — including General Mills Inc., Campbell Soup Co., ConAgra Foods Inc., Kraft Foods Inc., Kellogg Co., Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Hershey Co. — was to cut 1 trillion calories by 2012 and 1.5 trillion calories by 2015.
The foundation signed on to hold the companies accountable, and that group hired researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to painstakingly count the calories in almost every single packaged item in the grocery store. To do that, the UNC researchers used the store-based scanner data of hundreds of thousands of foods, commercial databases and nutrition facts panels to calculate exactly how many calories the companies were selling.
The researchers aren't releasing the entire study, but they said on Thursday that the companies have exceeded their own goals by a wide margin.
Dr. James Marks, director of the health group at the foundation, said that the group is pleased with the results but the companies “must sustain that reduction, as they've pledged to do, and other food companies should follow their lead.”
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is a nonpartisan philanthropic and research organization that works to improve the nation's health.
Even though the companies that made the commitment represent the nation's most well-known food companies, they sold only a little more than a third of all packaged foods and beverages at the beginning of the study.
Missing are many off-label brands sold under the names of retailers, and it's unknown whether those products have changed.
It is also unclear how the reduction in calories translates into consumers' diets.
When the companies made the pledge in 2010, they said one way they would try to reduce calories would be to change portion sizes in an attempt to persuade consumers to eat less.
The companies said that they would develop lower-calorie options and change existing products so they have fewer calories.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh unemployment rate steady as job market shrinks
- Sniffer lets PixController detect methane gas leaks
- Steelworkers union says ATI talks to resume
- Trib 30 takes bigger hit than Dow in August
- Popularity of emerging markets wanes
- ModCloth gets physical
- Gasoline prices down nearly a dime in Pittsburgh area
- August stock markets marked by fierce, deep selling
- Oilfield giant Schlumberger to purchase Cameron in $12.71B deal
- Macy’s prepares outlet stores
- Trib Total Media puts 9 Western Pa. newspapers up for sale