McDonough School of Business
Photo of the Business for Impact NCA Panel
News Story

Indulgent Food Panel Explores Health and Policy Issues to Address Obesity

Business for Impact’s Leadership Solutions for Health + Prosperity at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business recently published a new report, All Indulgent Products Are Not Created Equal, in conjunction with the National Confectioner’s Association, to demonstrate that not all indulgent or junk food is created equal and that ‘one-size-fits-all’ policy decisions are ineffective at addressing the issue. The conversation comes as obesity rates in the United States continue to grow and experts are calling on policymakers and public health officials to make proactive changes to address the issue. 

The research was presented and examined during a panel discussion with key stakeholders across the corporate, nonprofit, and academic sectors. Hank Cardello, executive director for Leadership Solutions for Health + Prosperity at Business for Impact, led the conversation alongside Anton Vincent, president of Mars Wrigley North America, and Bill Dietz, director of the Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

“Our goal is to help guide policymakers and public health officials to make more informed and effective decisions on how obesity can be addressed by the food industry,” said Cardello. 

The report highlights how the food and beverage industry efforts have made significant strides in helping to reduce sugar, calories, and portion sizes — encouraging consumers to make informed choices. One such example is the confectionery industry’s Always A Treat Initiative, which joined forces in a landmark commitment to Partnership for a Healthier America to set and achieve an ambitious goal to provide more transparency, create more portion guidance options in innovative packaging, and educate consumers about how unique products like chocolate and candy can be an occasional treat in a balanced lifestyle. 

During the panel, Vincent spoke about Mars Wrigley’s commitment to health-based policies as well as the ways in which they will continue to use their established presence in the confectionery industry to expand on key health initiatives. 

“Mars Wrigley was one of the first to get the number under 250 calories per serving, so this is a continuation of the strategy to support these efforts from both a Mars Wrigley perspective and probably more importantly, from an industry perspective,” said Vincent. “We have an impact both domestically and also globally in terms of how we’re trying to push and sell our goods in a very transparent and responsible way. Those are very, very important to us, and I think you’ll start to see us continue to do that as well across our portfolio.”

The panelists posed questions pertaining to how companies can help contribute to a healthier nation while simultaneously accomplishing their business goals. Dietz spoke about the changes the industry could make as it pertains to portion size while he also recognized the challenge in doing so. 

“I think the emphasis has been misplaced. People don’t consume calories – or their satiety – is not regulated by calories. It’s regulated by volume,” said Dietz. “The caloric density that is, the number of calories per unit, or mass, is really what regulates satiety. And I think that’s a goal that the industry has missed.”

Cardello hopes the report influences the food and beverage industry as well as the public health community to help consumers lead their lives with a better understanding of nutrition-based practices and daily decision-making that contributes to overall positive well-being. 

“This paper examines the purchase, consumption, and usage patterns to help us assess the role individual food sectors have on diet and to assess the connection each has to obesity and the intake of less desired food ingredients. It is our goal that this report will yield more effective policy decisions, better dietary guidance, and enlightened industry actions to enhance consumer health,” said Cardello.

Watch the panel discussion on ‘All Indulgent Products Are Not Created Equal,’ and follow Business for Impact on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for upcoming Business for Impact events. 

Business for Impact