General Mills Joins Unprecedented Coalition to Help Reduce Obesity
Company’s nationally recognized strategies frame commitment
Reinforcing General Mills’ on-going commitment to helping Americans achieve a healthy weight through energy balance, the company joined retailers, non-government organizations and peer food and beverage manufacturers today to launch the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF).
“We believe that companies like ours can make a difference, and we want to be part of the solution,” said Ken Powell, General Mills Chairman and CEO. “General Mills’ focused health and wellness strategy addresses the most important consumer health concerns: weight management, heart health, and living a healthier, more active lifestyle. Since 2005, we have improved the health and nutrition attributes of products representing 45 percent of our U.S. Retail business, and we are confident that we can continue to play a helpful role in addressing this issue by providing lower calorie, higher nutrient products to parents and their children, while continuing to support efforts to reinforce the importance of physical activity.”
The HWCF is a national, multi-year effort to try to help reduce obesity – especially childhood obesity – by 2015. The HWCF will promote ways to help people achieve a healthy weight through energy balance – balancing calories consumed as part of a healthy diet with calories expended through physical activity. The initiative will focus its efforts on three critical areas where people spend much of their time – the marketplace, the workplace and schools.
Connecting with Consumers
General Mills’ health and wellness strategy addresses weight management, heart health and living a healthier, more active lifestyle – the most important health concerns of American consumers. The company strives to provide products that offer great taste and convenience, while also delivering the nutritional benefits consumers are seeking.
Many General Mills products offer specific health benefits as part of a balanced and healthy lifestyle. The company has reduced the number of calories in products, added calcium, reduced fat, added vitamins, reduced sugar and sodium and increased fiber.
For example, studies show that just one in 10 U.S. consumers eat enough fiber. General Mills has responded with innovations in this important area, and now offers more than 30 fiber-added products – everything from yogurt to pancakes – under its category-leading Fiber One brand.
In the important area of whole grain nutrition, General Mills’ Big G cereal division alone delivers almost 35 million servings of whole grain per day – helping ensure that 1 in 10 Americans get at least one serving of whole grain every day by eating a bowl of any Big G cereal, including category-leading cereals such as Cheerios, Chex and Kix.
Other examples of the company’s focus on health and nutrition include more convenient ways to eat Green Giant vegetables, reduced-sodium Progresso soups and low-fat Yoplait yogurts.
Recognized as a “Best Employer for Healthy Lifestyles” by the National Business Group on Health, General Mills also focuses on employee wellness by empowering employees to make healthy choices.
Beginning with the company’s TriHealthalon program, designed especially for the company’s sales employees almost 25 years ago, programs are tailored to meet the unique needs of different employee groups. In the TriHealthalon program, for example, sales employees from different regions compete to meet fitness and wellness goals. “Total You,” a program developed for employees at the corporate headquarters, was launched in 2000, and the company’s “Health Number” program was created for Supply Chain employees in 2004.
Since extended to all three groups, General Mills’ “Health Number” program asks employees questions about exercise, diet and lifestyle, and tracks health measurements over time to calculate an employee’s “health number,” while supporting programs to improve and enhance an overall healthy lifestyle. The health improvements of employees as a result of these programs have been significant.
Commitment to Community
General Mills also partners to help children and families live healthy, active lives. For seven years, General Mills has supported the Champions for Healthy Kids initiative, donating more than $18 million to nonprofit organizations that support and educate young people on the importance of maintaining balanced diet and staying fit and active. This initiative, sponsored by the General Mills Foundation, operates in partnership with the American Dietetic Association Foundation and the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
Through the General Mills Foundation’s Healthy Communities program, the efforts have also included partnerships with Mayor Adrian Fenty’s Commission on Food & Nutrition and the United Way of the National Capital Area to promote fitness and better nutrition among school-aged children in the Washington D.C., community. With an investment of $500,000, public and charter elementary schools in the community will be able to provide more robust physical education programs and nutrition learning for thousands of local students.
“We are very pleased to stand with our peers in launching this initiative,” added Powell. “This is important issue for our nation to address, and we believe the new Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation can help.”
About General Mills
One of the world’s leading food companies, General Mills operates in more than 100 countries and markets more than 100 consumer brands, including Cheerios, Häagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Progresso, Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A., General Mills had fiscal 2009 global net sales of US$15.9 billion, including the company’s $1.2 billion proportionate share of joint venture net sales.
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