Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation Triples Membership in First Year
Monday, January 31, 2011
Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation
triples membership in first year, launches program in all of its priority areas
By Lisa Gable
with 41 food companies, trade associations and non-governmental organizations
coming together to help reduce obesity, especially childhood obesity. The
result was the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation. The goal of combating
obesity is as challenging as it is important. That is why the Foundation has
taken a look at what we have achieved and what we plan to achieve in the near
future, in our annual report, available at www.healthyweightcommit.org.
One of the most important differences we have made is
to bring together people who are committed to combating obesity. The 41
founding members have grown into more than 135 organizations, united to develop
practical solutions to America’s obesity problem by promoting active, healthy
lifestyles. These organizations – including retailers, food and beverage
manufacturers, sporting goods and insurance companies, restaurants, a
professional sports association, trade associations, NGOs, professional
athletes and the U.S. Army – talk to millions of people every day.
Bringing organizations like this together focuses
enormous attention on the problem of obesity, and some of the things that can
be done about it.
Of course, bringing people together is just the start.
There is no one, easy solution to the obesity problem. We have been pursuing
our mission where Americans spend a majority of their time – in schools, in the
workplace, and in the marketplace, as well as through broad public education.
In schools, the Foundation launched Energy Balance 101, available for
free online and at more than half our nation’s elementary schools.
curriculum, powered by Discovery Education, provides teachers with free energy balance
curriculum for the K-2 and 3-5 grade bands. Teachers can use
these tools to
help young people achieve a healthy weight through energy balance – balancing
calories consumed with calories expended through physical activity.
The annual report also describes the Foundation’s
principal initiative in the marketplace, where member companies will work to provide consumers with
options to reduce their calorie intake, improve their overall nutrition and
close the energy gap. Member
companies – joined by First Lady Michelle Obama – pledged on May 17th
to reduce 1.5 trillion annual calories by the end of 2015. The Foundation
explained that its member companies will pursue this goal through new
lower-calorie options, reduced calorie content of current products, or reducing
portion sizes of existing single-serve products.
The Foundation will issue
annual progress reports to the Partnership for a Healthier America, chaired by
the First Lady. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will support an independent
evaluation of how this effort is affecting calories consumed by children and
In the workplace, members began to
comprehensively measure their wellness programs on an annual basis, and share
what they learn with the rest of corporate America. Results were published in
the Workplace Wellness Evaluation October 2010.
found that the impact of company efforts is beginning to show up in improved
employee health, such as a 3.4 percentage point increase in people having a
healthy weight. The biggest challenge? Getting employees to participate.
Foundation members have been finding that incentives – financial and
non-financial – have helped remove barriers between employees and healthy behavior. In fact, 58 percent of
participating employers provide cash rewards to employees
who achieved or progressed toward a healthy weight. But encouraging a healthy workforce
doesn’t have to take a huge financial commitment. In partnership with the
National Business Group on Health, the Foundation launched www.YourWellnessAdvantage.com, a one-stop website
offering turnkey solutions that small and medium-sized businesses can choose
from in promoting a healthy workplace.
Foundation has only begun to scratch the surface toward its goals. We will build on our partnership with Discovery
Education, and monitor the success of Energy Balance 101. The Foundation will continue to conduct annual evaluations of
member programs, and expects continuous improvement. We are adding a Wellness Services
Locator, a central resource directory that small and medium-sized businesses
will be able to use to find nearby wellness services that are available to
their employees. HWCF will launch
a social media program aimed at encouraging and supporting families to pursue
healthy lifestyles that help curb and prevent obesity.
One thing we have found in our first year
of the Foundation’s existence is the willingness of so many organizations and
people to work together to address the critical national problem of obesity.
More than anything else, this spirit of cooperation is the biggest asset we
bring to meeting the challenge.
Lisa Gable is executive
director of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, a first-of-its kind coalition aimed at addressing the challenge of obesity –
especially childhood obesity.