Health care advocates and groups concerned about an obesity crisis have long pressed food manufactures to cut calories in packaged food products. Roughly two-thirds of the calories Americans consume come from packaged foods and beverages, especially from saturated fats and added sugars. It appears food manufacturers all along have been reducing calories. A group of food manufacturers in 2009 pledged to reduce calories but the effort has not been independently verified.
This week, a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and authored by researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that the companies removed 6.4 trillion calories by 2012, more than quadrupling the pledged amount.
CQ Roll Call’s Georgina Gustin reports that calories in packaged foods produced by companies organized into a healthy weight promotion coalition dropped an average of 78 calories per capita, per day, from 2007 to 2012. Calories in foods produced by non-participating companies fell by 11 calories, and calories in private label brands fell by roughly the same amount, for a total reduction of about 99 calories per person.