Interview with Partnership For A Healthier America (Continued)
The Role of Diabetes Companies
Kelly: How could you see diabetes companies in particular making an impact? This is an incredible opportunity for the very first one to stand up and lead the way. Also, do you have any other strategies to raise awareness from the patient perspective?
Larry: Let's start with the companies. There's probably no sector I know as well as the diabetes sector, and the same with Dr. Gavin, so it's really natural for us. We are talking about obesity, but what we are really talking about is diabetes and other obesity-related conditions that are part and parcel of the obesity epidemic. [Editor's Note: It is recognized by dLife that type 1 diabetes is not an obesity related condition.] I really think that companies involved in diabetes, while they are not selling food, are right in the middle of this problem.
So there's a huge opportunity for companies in this space. Many of them have made prevention strategies top priorities within their companies and their diabetes divisions, and I think we will offer companies in the diabetes space a real opportunity to be clear leaders. Again, that's going to require us to sit down and talk about what that's going to entail and sign an agreement, but I think that many diabetes companies are going to find value in it because number one, it's going to help the companies communicate to their customers and other key constituents that they are not just talking, but also really willing to go the extra mile to join the fight against obesity and obesity-related causes of diabetes. I think that this has actually been a very interested group of people for us to work with, and I've already had some good communications with some of them, so I'm really excited about what that offers us. As far as patients go, I think we are starting with our first goal of touching industry, but our goal after that is touching patients.
In particular, I think we're going to reach out to families, and moms who are making a lot of the decisions on some of these key issues. It's funny coming from me, because you know me as a real fighter and a lobbyist from my background, but coming from where we are right now as a neutral broker, I don't think we will use the families in efforts to lobby companies. Instead, we will be trying to bring together families and key opinion leaders that companies would find valuable for communicating all the good they are doing through their own networks.
Kelly: This was a wonderful opportunity to speak with you. We will be following your work closely.
In collaboration with the Partnership for a Healthier America, Wal-Mart announced a major initiative in January 2011 to increase and improve healthy food choices. The company has committed to reformulate its packaged food products, make healthy foods more affordable, and educate consumers on healthy choices through front-label packaging. By 2015, Wal-Mart intends to reduce sodium in its packaged food products by 25% and reduce added sugars by 10%. The company also stated that it will save consumers $1 billion each year in lower prices for fresh fruits and vegetables, and the company said it will also work to reduce price premiums on "better-for-you" items.
Bright Horizons, a provider of employer-sponsored childcare, early education, and work/life solutions, also recently announced a major deal with the Partnership for Healthier America. In June, it said it would eliminate fried foods and sugar-sweetened beverages during mealtime in its nearly 600 childcare centers (hurrah!). Bright Horizons also pledged to continue its emphasis on promoting family-style dining, encouraging in-center breastfeeding, and providing at least one to two hours of physical activity per day at its health centers, just as the US Department of Health and Human Services recommends all children receive.
In July, First Lady Michelle Obama announced the Partnership for a Healthier America's collaboration with Wal-Mart, SuperValu, and Walgreens, as well as several regional retailers, in opening fresh grocery outlets in food deserts. Since 2007, Wal-Mart has opened 218 stores in areas that lack access to healthy foods, and the company plans to open up to 300 more stores in food deserts by 2016. In the next five years, SuperValu intends to open 250 Save-A-Lot stores in food deserts, and Walgreens will convert or open at least 1,000 food oasis stores that offer a larger assortment of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In addition, several regional grocers also promised to open stores in food deserts. Calhorn Grocer, a local chain based in Alabama, said it would open 10 stores over the next five years, which would serve at least 10,000 individuals in low-access areas. Brown's Super Store committed to building one store and expanding one store in food deserts near Philadelphia, and Klein's Family Markets said it would open one store in an underserved area in Baltimore. The California Endowment pledged $200 million to support the opening of stores in food deserts, and the federal government pledged $35 million this year and possibly $300 million next year. We sure hope this makes it through the red tape of deficit reduction – to end childhood obesity, significant investment by the government is needed today.
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NOTE: This information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition
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