Wal-Mart moves toward better nutrition
This morning I blogged about the federal government's Food Environment Atlas, which (among other things) maps out every American community's access to healthful foods.
The newly updated Atlas will likely need updating again soon, as Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, announces plans to phase in more healthful food offerings between now and 2015. The company will alter its house brands and work with other food manufacturers such as Kraft to lower the sodium, fat and sugar content of its foods. It also aims to bring the price of better-for-you foods made with whole grains in line with that of products made with less-healthful refined grains and to lower the prices of fruits and vegetables. Wal-Mart has been encouraged to take such action by Michelle Obama and her Let's Move! campaign to end childhood obesity in a generation.
So wherever there's a Wal-Mart, the local food environment could shift dramatically, given the volume of Wal-Mart's sales. The impact will be especially noteworthy in the District of Columbia, where there now are no Wal-Marts but where the company plans, it announced last fall, to build four new stores by the end of 2012.
People will quibble with all kinds of things, from the seemingly lengthy phase-in period to Wal-Mart's business practices. I say let's give credit where credit is due: Wal-Mart is doing what nutrition folks have been urging everyone in the food industry to do, which is to make it easier for Americans -- two thirds of us overweight or obese -- to make better food choices. Way to go, Wal-Mart.
Jennifer LaRue Huget
| January 20, 2011; 9:07 AM ET
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