In 2009 the number of obese Americans exceeded 72 million (26.7% of American adults). In an attempt to mitigate this issue, 16 of the country’s largest food and beverage companies teamed up with Partnership for a Healthier America and decided to reduce the amount of calories sold to, and thus consumed by, Americans by 1.5 trillion in 6 years. Initial findings indicate that the calorie reduction adds up to an average of 14 calories less per day; roughly 2-3 pounds per year. At the end of last month one study found that childhood obesity rates declined for the first time in decades. Removing 1.5 trillion calories from circulation is certainly not going to prompt weight gain among Americans, but is the change enough to successfully fight obesity? Zintro experts discuss the extent to which the nationwide cut in calories could influence child obesity rates.
Jeff Nedelman, a science and public relations consultant with over 30 years of experience in the field of food and nutrition, explains: “While the food industry has made thousands of changes in products, this is but a minor step forward in the process. Obesity remains an epidemic.” Nedelman understands the tendency for “sanguine” attitudes towards an issue in the wake of positive news, but he cautions against prematurely celebrating the end of obesity.
Komal Mehta, a dietitian specializing in clinical nutrition, echoes Nedelman’s concern. A recent projection warns that “42% of Americans may end up obese by 2030 (up from 36% in 2010), and 11% could be severely obese, roughly 100 or more pounds over a healthy weight (vs. 6% in 2010).” Mehta asserts that calorie counting is important when it comes to achieving a healthy weight, but only as a part of a larger set of lifestyle habits. “Successful dieters,” like the members of, “the National Weight Control Registry, a group of 10,000 people who have lost 30 pounds or more and maintained that loss for a year or more, have developed many weight-control strategies. For instance, [they] watch fewer than 10 hours of television per week and eat breakfast regularly.” Mehta includes that “With severely overweight children there are often emotional factors -including depression, possible abuse and family upheaval- that need to be addressed [in order to] help reduce obesity in children and adolescents.” Mehta continues by referencing the findings of a recent survey that analyzed American attitudes towards governmental intervention on the matter: “While most people support nutrition guidelines to help Americans make better choices along with the posting of calorie counts on restaurant menus, nearly six in ten of those surveyed opposed unhealthy food taxes and three-quarters of respondents were against government restrictions on what people can purchase.”
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