Food Industry Responds to Consumer Demand for Healthier Food

First lady encourages healthy food but says Twinkies don't need a warning label.

March 17, 2010— -- At the movie theater, that 1,100-calorie bucket of popcorn seems like an American birthright. So could you imagine munching on fruit salad instead?

If the chairman of Sony Pictures has his way, you may soon have that choice at your local Cineplex. This week, Michael Lynton told theater chain owners that "by bringing healthier snacks into your concession stands you would be helping our country meet an urgent public health need."

Meanwhile, Kraft announced today they will cut the sodium in hundreds of products by 10 percent over the next couple of years, the equivalent of 10 million pounds of salt.

And after studies showed that the average teenage boy consumes 72 pounds of sugar a year by drinking, among other things, an average of two soft drinks a day, Pepsi vowed to pull their most sugary drinks from all schools around the world.

Coca-Cola also recently said it would stop selling soft drinks in primary schools unless school districts ask them to, but they reportedly will not expand the ban to secondary schools, disappointing critics.

"We also support Coca-Cola's move to remove all beverages from primary schools, but unfortunately that company has done nothing to reduce the caloric content of soft drinks it sells in high schools," said Bruce Silverglade of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Limits to What Government Can Do

While Congress debated but eventually dropped a plan to tax soda, experts say this corporate health kick seems driven less by government intervention and more by customer demand.

First lady Michelle Obama has also continued her push for more nutritional awareness, while acknowledging the limits of what government can do. At an event today, she scoffed at the idea of a warning label on Twinkies.

"You know, that strikes me as extreme," she said, "because a Twinkie is not a cigarette. And what parents need is just information about what's in the Twinkie and how much of this can we eat."

Health Groups and Michelle Obama Keep Pressure on Junk Food

"It's not that we can't have a Twinkie," she continued. "You can't tell people what to do in their own homes, and nor should you. But there comes a point when we start seeing enough statistics, we get emotionally ready to make some of those changes."

If these moves prove that there is profit in healthier consumers, it will be good news for your waistline, and the bottom line.

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