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Food companies cut back 6.4 trillion calories from products: study

The researchers ‘used the store-based scanner data of hundreds of thousands of foods, commercial databases and nutrition facts panels to calculate exactly how many calories the companies were selling.’


If your January diet is already withering under the temptations of packaged treats and processed foods, a new study may lessen the guilt.

Researchers sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a non-partisan philanthropic research organization in Princeton, N.J., checked in on a 2010 pledge taken by 16 companies who dominate the middle aisles of grocery stores – including General Mills Inc., Campbell Soup Co., Kraft Foods Inc., Kellogg Co., Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Hershey Co. – to cut one trillion calories from their products by 2012 and 1.5 trillion calories by 2015.

According to the Associated Press, these companies have actually cut about 6.4 trillion from their caloric bottom lines between 2007 and 2012.

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This translates into a reduction in daily calorie counts by an average of 78 per day for the the entire United States population, which is more than four times the amount the industry pledged to slash by next year, AP reports.

The researchers, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, "used the store-based scanner data of hundreds of thousands of foods, commercial databases and nutrition facts panels to calculate exactly how many calories the companies were selling," AP reports.

While they aren't yet releasing all of their data, a spokesperson for the foundation did praise the food makers.

Dr. James Marks, the director of the Health Group at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, also said the companies 'must sustain that reduction, as they've pledged to do, and other food companies should follow their lead," AP reports.

Marks told AP that the companies accomplished the reduction in a few ways. They packaged smaller servings, including the new trend toward 100-calorie snack packages. They also pledged to reduce the calories in existing products and develop new lower-calorie options.

Of course this really only matters if we, the consumers, are actually eating fewer cookies, crackers and macaroni or choosing the lower-calorie versions of our favourite products. Sorry, if you're hoarding five 100-calorie packs of Kellogg's Special K Fruit Crisps for your "diet" afternoon snack, no amount of magical thinking will make that a slimming choice.

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About the Author

Tralee Pearce has been a reporter at The Globe and Mail since 1999, starting as a writer in the paper’s Style section. She joined the new Life section for its launch in 2007. She covers parenting and family issues for the daily section. More


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