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Industry Takes On Childhood Obesity, But Will It Help?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Childhood obesity has become a hot topic in the news these days. Rising obesity rates and questions about the health and well-being of our children have forced parents, teachers, the government and others to start taking action to combat this problem. New changes are coming, including the world's second-largest soft drink producer who is making it more difficult for school-age children to access their products worldwide.

PepsiCo will remove full-calorie, sweetened drinks from schools in more than 200 countries by 2012. Both PepsiCo and Coca-Cola Co. stopped selling sugary drinks in U.S. schools in 2006. Now PepsiCo has decided to make this change worldwide. They say the change is aimed at cutting down on childhood obesity, and that it also makes sense because sales in schools worldwide do not make up a huge portion of their overall sales. According to the article, "In primary schools, PepsiCo will sell only water, fat-free or low-fat milk, and juice with no added sugar. In secondary schools, it will sell those drinks along with low-calorie soft drinks, such as Diet Pepsi. Sports drinks are permissible when they're sold to students participating in sports or other physical activities."

Although this is a small change in the grand scheme of the childhood obesity issue, it's a step in the right direction. If kids are given healthier choices at school, then that puts even more pressure on parents to continue the trend at home. Hopefully more companies will also feel this pressure and follow suit. Companies aren't likely to make changes to their products and policies just because it's the right thing to do. They do it because others around them are doing it and it's good for their image.

One of Michelle Obama's top priorities is a campaign to increase activities levels and improve the diets of children. At a recent meeting of the Grocery Manufacturer's Association, Obama asked companies to "step it up", and put less fat, sugar and salt in foods- particularly those that are marketed to children. New government legislation is also on the horizon, including a child nutrition bill that could eliminate junk food in schools. It's in these companies best interests to start finding ways to improve the health of their products because otherwise they could be fighting an uphill (and unpopular) battle. A representative for the grocery association said the industry is open to working with the government on finding ways to produce healthier foods. This is another example of how the pressure and attention seem to be working.

What do you think about the changes that are happening? Do you think these things will make a difference when it comes to the health of our children, or are they just a drop in the bucket? If they won't make much of a difference, what is it going to take to see a real change?

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