HHS Secretary Thompson Urges Fast Food Chains To Offer Healthier Choices
In an effort to reduce the number of overweight and obese people in the United States, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and Department of Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman met with representatives of the fast-food industry yesterday and encouraged them to "aggressively advertise" more fruits and vegetables, consider reducing portion sizes and "generally offer more healthy food," the Washington Post reports. At the meeting, which was attended by representatives from the National Restaurant Association, the National Council of Chain Restaurants, Wendy's and Burger King, Thompson said fast-food chains need to "find ways to merchandise healthier food." Veneman asked restaurants to promote fruit and vegetable consumption and examine new technology that would allow some fruits and vegetables, such as apples and carrots, to remain fresh longer. After the meeting, Thompson said, "I want more choices and healthier choices on [the restaurants'] menus and advertising campaigns to eat healthy. We are too fat and don't exercise, and I invited [the restaurants] to be part of the solution" (Kaufman, Washington Post, 10/16).
The meeting comes one week after HHS released a report finding almost 33% of U.S. adults are obese and 15% of U.S. children ages six to 19 are overweight (HHS release, 10/15). Steven Anderson of the National Restaurant Association defended fast-food chains, saying that patrons "don't have to look far for healthy choices" when they eat in such restaurants, the Post reports. Anderson added that surveys conducted by the association indicate 70% of people believe restaurant portions are the "right size." The meeting was one of many Thompson plans to schedule with industry representatives and groups that focus on food, healthy eating and physical fitness. Thompson hopes to hold a similar meeting with soft drink manufacturers and wants to encourage schools to reinstate physical education programs (Washington Post, 10/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.