New Report Finds Not All Indulgent Products Are Created Equal

WASHINGTON (September 15, 2022) – Today, Business for Impact at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business hosted a panel discussion on findings from a new report examining the relationship between indulgent foods, diet and obesity. It shows how some lawmakers advocate to advance policies that treat all foods equally when in fact they are very different in terms of their impact on consumer health and wellness. The findings in the new report, All Indulgent Products are Not Created Equal, will help policymakers and public health officials advance informed and effective policies targeting the complex issue of obesity.

The panel featured:

·        Hank Cardello, Executive Director of the Leadership Solutions for Health + Prosperity Program at Georgetown University’s Business for Impact and Chair of the Portion Balance Coalition

·        Anton Vincent, President, Mars Wrigley North America

·        Bill Dietz, Director of Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness at George Washington University

“Simply put, one size does not fit all when it comes to impacting consumers’ intake of indulgent foods,” said Hank Cardello, executive director of the Leadership Solutions for Health + Prosperity Program at Georgetown University’s Business for Impact. “Our research found that while some indulgent products were purchased more by those with obesity compared to those at a healthy weight, chocolate and candy were purchased at similar rates between consumers considered to be a healthy weight and those with obesity. Meaning—all indulgent foods are not created equal and policymakers and public health officials need to consider the contributions of individual product categories when developing policy.”

The report examines the purchase, consumption and usage patterns for key indulgent food and beverage categories to gain a better understanding of the roles individual food sectors have on diet and assess their connection to obesity. It finds that chocolate and candy should not be grouped with other indulgent products. Instead, efforts designed to curb obesity would be more effective if an emphasis were placed on indulgent product groups linked closest to purchases by those with obesity.

“In order to address the nation’s obesity crisis, public health officials, policymakers and food industry leaders need to work together,” said Cardello. “While producers of indulgent food and beverages need to continue their work on portion guidance and consumer education, public health officials and regulators should take lessons from this report and work to regulate caloric and sugar intake in a calculated way.”

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 Initiativewhich recently concluded with great success. In 2017, America’s leading chocolate and candy companies joined forces in a landmark commitment to Partnership for a Healthier America. These companies set and achieved 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.

The report was authored by Hank Cardello, Executive Director of the Leadership Solutions for Health + Propensity Program at Georgetown University’s Business for Impact and Richard Black, PhD, Adjunct Professor at Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy and McGill University’s Desautels School of Management.

The event and the All Indulgent Products Are Not Created Equal report were made possible by support from the National Confectioners Association.

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