Thursday, January 9, 2014


Cutting down on calorie intake through daily diet is considered a practical way to reduce body weight and get relief from impending ailments like diabetes, CVD, blood pressure and obesity on a long term basis. The advocates of diet control even go to the extent recommending that going in for a restricted calorie diet helps to extend life by a few years. But the food industry, with its focus on increasing profits, invariably tries to attract more and more customers to its portfolio of food products through enriching them with sugar and fat. Bowing to pressure from governments and the consumer activists the industry did make a commitment in the year 2010 to reduce the calorie content of its products by about 1.5 trillion calories in 5 years. If reports are to be believed the industry was able to reduce the calories by a whopping 6.4 trillion by the end of 2012 it self and patted itself on its back for this "achievement". Here is a take on this subject which may or may not make much of a sense if the obesity rate continues to grow!   

"Some of the nation's largest food companies have cut calories in their products by more than 6.4 trillion, according to a new study.  The study sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that between 2007 and 2012 the companies reduced their products' calories by the equivalent of around 78 calories per person per day. The total is more than four times the amount those companies had pledged to cut by next year. 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 around 2,000 calories. The study said the calories cut averaged out to 78 calories per day for the entire U.S. population. The 2010 pledge taken by 16 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 Robert Wood Johnson 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 yet releasing the entire study, but they said Thursday that the companies have exceeded their own goals by a wide margin."

Of course any effort, however meaningless it may be, should be encouraged even if the impact is not to the expected level. The organization which made the audit and published these figures has not revealed as to how it has come to this conclusion. Whether this is based on figures furnished by the industry or by independent auditing is worth knowing. If such a policy shift is genuine and accomplished sincerely consumers must support this new approach to consumer welfare. Ultimately any dramatic improvement in obesity control can be achieved only if the consumers show their determination to moderate their diet by self discipline and a sense of dedication.


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