it's a start, but barely that

I recently read an Associated Press article headlined "Food companies say they'll remove 1.5 trillion calories" and was initially impressed until I got into the reality behind this tiny start toward reducing childhood obesity. It turns out that the highly vaunted amount works out to 12.5 calories per person per day. I've blogged and written elsewhere that 50 calories a day works out to be five pounds a year (3,500 calories equates to a pound), so this initial effort from the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation equates to a pound and a quarter a year.

That may be a start, but it sure isn't much of one.

If we cut our daily intake by fifty calories (and that shouldn't be hard considering how much Americans and some others eat), we'd lose five pounds a year. One hundred calories less a day + 100 calories worth of exercise would result in a loss of twenty pounds over a year. I've done a little better than that over the past year and I'm down about twenty-five pounds.

But let's go back to the food companies, the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation has over 80 companies, including many of the big names. Sure they're responding to Michelle Obama's speech given in March to an industry meeting, and making some efforts (I'd call it a tiny one) to cut sugar and fat from their products (and hopefully salt also). But the huge number in the headline, 1.5 trillion calories, has to be put into perspective. Twelve and a half calories a day per person sure isn't much.

I think we all need to eat more fruits and vegetables, lose our mid-section excess and then keep it off by increasing our exercise or some combination of diet and exercise. I think the food companies need to cut their products calorie load a lot more than a mere 1.5 trillion calories. Until they do, and maybe even after they do, we should, as much as possible look for ways to eat healthier.

That's easier to say than do for many people. Fresh fruits and vegetables aren't cheap and families living on tight budgets may struggle to put healthier meals on the table. So my push would be for our government (and the food companies) to subsidize food, especially for kids, that's built around eating more fresh fruits and veggies and less processed foods.  We also need to get our kids outside, away from the computers, cell phones and other sedentary lifestyle items and get them interested in walking, running and biking.

It's time and past time for all of us to help bring about the diet and exercise changes we need, both for ourselves and especially for our kids and grandkids.

Then that amazing headline with its dazzling 1.5 trillion calorie figure could actually be put into perspective. Folks, it's just a drop in the bucket. We need to fill that bucket.

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