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Grocery Manufacturers Association Testifies before Congress in Hearing on “Innovations in Addressing Childhood Obesity”

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) Senior Vice President and Chief Government Affairs Officer Mary Sophos today testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health regarding the food and beverage industry’s commitment to do its part to help reduce obesity in America – especially childhood obesity:

“GMA and its members are committed to doing our part to help win the critical battle against childhood obesity. Our industry will continue to support and encourage partnerships including those with the public sector, the private sector, parents and others. In particular, government and industry must do more to create and encourage healthier choices and physical activity -- at school, at home, and in our communities.

“The food and beverage industry already has taken significant steps to create and encourage healthier choices. In recent years, we have changed our packaging to promote portion control and we have reformulated more than 10,000 products to reduce or remove saturated fats, trans fats, calories, sugar and sodium. Changes in advertising practices have resulted in a significant shift in the product mix of advertising viewed by children and companies continue to compete by focusing on consumers’ desires for healthy products and a healthy lifestyle.

“Three years ago, GMA and its member companies helped create the Healthy Schools Partnership (HSP), a truly innovative partnership of the American Dietetic Association Foundation, PE4life and the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition. The HSP integrates a nutrition curriculum into the PE4life physical education classroom - training Registered Dietitian’s to be Nutrition Coaches to “coach” and motivate students along side the PE4life teachers – and giving students real life examples of how to get to energy balance.

“This fall, over 40 food and beverage manufacturers, retailers and NGOs announced a $20 million, multi-year initiative - the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation - designed to help reduce obesity, particularly childhood obesity, by 2015. The HWCF promotes ways to help people achieve a healthy weight through energy balance and focuses on three critical areas: the marketplace, the workplace and schools, as well as undertaking a public education campaign aimed at 6-11 year olds and their parents.

“These are just a few of the efforts our industry is undertaking with the many stakeholders who will be critical to achieving the goal of reversing the trends in childhood obesity. But for us to have meaningful, long term impact, it is critical that Congress and the states do more to increase investments in physical education, nutrition education, and workplace wellness.

“We look forward to working with Congress to put into place the policies and resources that will help combat our nation’s obesity epidemic.”