Dannon, Del Monte Partner With First Lady's Health Initiative

Credit: Susan Walsh/AP Photo

Two of the country's largest name brands became the latest companies today to partner with first lady Michelle Obama's health initiatives.

Dannon and Del Monte Foods announced they would be moving to improve nutrition in their products.

Speaking at an annual summit of the Partnership for a Healthier America, Obama said she was "extremely grateful" for the companies joining the consortium.

"Today slowly but surely healthy habits are becoming the new norm in this country," she said, mentioning a recent CDC report finding obesity rates among children ages 2 to 5 had fallen 43 percent in the last decade. "I think we should all be very proud of what we are achieving together. Because in a fight this hard we should celebrate every small victory we can get."

"It is a very good thing that we have got so much momentum right now, because we still have a long way to go to solve this problem, particularly among our older children," Obama added.

For their part, Dannon will be reducing sugar and fat content in its yogurt products and increasing nutrient counts including calcium and Vitamin D.

Currently, 62 percent of its products contain 23 grams or fat of less in per six-ounce serving. Their goal is to reach 70 percent within two years.

Del Monte will be improving "nutrient density" in its products, according to a press release. The end goal will be a 15 percent jump on the Nutrient Rich Food Index, they said.

The Partnership for a Healthier America consists of over 50 companies ranging from Dannon, the country's largest yogurt provider, to Sesame Street. It was formed in tandem with the first lady's "Let's Move" campaign, but remains independently run.

Regardless, the first lady is the honorary chair of the organization, who also lists Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and former Republican Senate Majority Leader William Frist, among its members.

RELATED: Nutrition Labels Get Facelift to Reflect Reality.

Obama also said Let's Move, which recently celebrated its fourth anniversary, would be refocusing on healthier home cooking strategies in the next year. Reminiscing of well-planned home-cooked meals from her grandmother's tight budget, the first lady argued that it was a misconception that freshly prepared foods were more expensive to prepare than fast food or pre-packaged goods.

It was a trap she and a younger Barack Obama fell into after the birth of their daughters, she claimed.

"We did our best to cook regularly at home but like so many working parents we both had demanding jobs, we were always exhausted, and over time we started giving in and popping things in the microwave and spending way too much of our monthly budget ordering takeout," Obama said. "Which in turn resulted in less than optimum health outcomes for our kids."

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