by Jack Minor –
At the urging of Michelle Obama, Wal-Mart has agreed to change its product offering to reduce the number of high fat items they sell.
Wal-Mart issued a statement saying they will implement a Nutrition Charter which contains five key elements. The first goal involves reformulating thousands of packaged food items they currently sell. The changes will involve reducing sodium by 25 percent, sugar by 10 percent and removing trans fats.
The company says it will also reduce prices on fruits and vegetables and develop a “healthy seal” to help consumers identify health products. Another element involves Wal-Mart making $2 billion in contributions to nutrition programs helping to educate consumers about healthier food choices.
Partnership for a Healthier America will be evaluating and monitoring Wal-Mart’s progress on these goals.
Recently the military declared childhood obesity to be a national security concern saying that 25 percent of young people are ineligible for military service based solely on weight requirements.
Michelle Obama defended herself against critics who say her campaign is, “big government at work,” saying obesity adds as much as $150 billion to health care costs.
She has also called upon restaurants to change their menus. The proposed changes would reduce portion sizes and offer fruits and vegetables in lieu of french fries. Other changes supported by Michelle Obama would replace menus containing macaroni and cheese, hamburgers and chicken fingers with other healthier alternatives.
Luisita Torregrosa, writing for Politics Daily, speculates the decision by Wal-Mart could be to score points with the administration at a time when it is facing pressure from labor organizations and a lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Wal-Mart’s partnership with the first lady may serve to help it open stores in big cities with undeserved low-income neighborhoods. But highly unionized cities, like New York, oppose Wal-Mart’s efforts and so far Wal-Mart has been unable to crack the opposition it has faced in the nation’s largest city.” Torregrosa went on to say that, “Mrs. Obama who has a pro-union pedigree… could help soften opposition to the company here and everywhere.”
She also pointed out the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case involving Wal-Mart facing the largest class-action lawsuit involving employment discrimination in American history.
The lawsuit accuses Wal-Mart of discriminating against women in wages and promotions. The court will rule on whether the women involved in the case constitute a class.
The Gazette previously reported how the administration was attempting to control what individuals eat by calling for “behavior modification” in order to promote healthy living habits.
Last year the President signed an executive order creating a health council to provide recommendations to Congress on how to achieve health promotion and public health goals; including the reduction of tobacco use, sedentary behavior, and poor nutrition. The order contained a list of national priorities to address “lifestyle behavior modification” to include, among other things, appropriate exercise and proper nutrition.
Critics at the time said the government had no business regulating people’s lifestyles. David Limbaugh wrote in a column, “Lifestyle behavior modification is none of the government’s business, but it is even less the prerogative of a renegade, unaccountable executive acting outside the law through unconstitutional executive orders.”
In an effort to control a person’s eating habits, authorities have argued in a federal court case involving raw milk that individuals “do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish.”