In Part 2, we’ll also be hearing from Council Members
Pierre Chandon, PhD, James O. Hill, PhD, Stephan Jacob, PhD, and Ellen E. Wartella, PhD.
How do you think members of the CGF can have a positive impact on the global health and wellness agenda?
Ellen: First, by raising the issue and sustaining interest in the issue globally, the CGF can be quite influential. Second, practices to improve the healthfulness of food and beverages that are done beyond individual consumer choices can be vastly influential by changing the food environment which will impact all consumers.
Stephan: As Council Members, we all come from various specialties with a lot of experience, so we can exchange our ideas from the different perspectives and hopefully set up strategies, or even programmes, to promote a better health. This could then be evaluated by the member companies of The Consumer Goods Forum. They can then provide preventive programmes to their employees, which could have not only a direct impact on the health (and work power of the company), but with a successful programme, it would give a chance for a large roll out to other people/populations.
James: If our goal is to promote small changes to improve health and wellness, the CGF companies can help first by providing choices that are a little healthier, and second by using marketing to educate people about the importance of making healthier lifestyle choices. I would like see all of the CGF companies committed to helping develop and market healthier products.
Pierre: Obesity is driven in a large part by ever-increasing food portion sizes and more frequent consumption occasions. Yet, our efforts to fight obesity – for example, food reformulation – have focused on trying to influence what people eat instead of how much or how often they eat. But many people want to continue to eat the food that they know and like. I believe that the food industry can have a positive impact in the fight against obesity by offering more reasonable portion sizes and promoting less erratic eating patterns.
What do you see as our biggest challenges and opportunities in health and wellness?
Ellen: Beyond the issue of obesity, which is a worldwide issue, we are beginning to think about ways to encourage a healthier food environment for a host of global health issues (such as diabetes and heart disease). This clearly poses a challenge for the CGF, both in terms of considering the relative importance of various health issues around the globe and in identifying practices that might help ameliorate negative health outcomes.
Stephan: We first need to learn from each other and we need to understand where the problems and opportunities are, as well as what can be realistically achieved. Also, across the world, there are so many diverse traditions, levels of education and income, and healthcare systems, so we have to realise there won´t be “one fits all” solution.
James: To become healthier people must overcome their biological tendencies to eat too much of the wrong foods and be inactive. We need all sectors of society involved to give people a reason to do this and to make it easier. The private sector can use the small changes framework to provide choices that are a little healthier.
Pierre: Traditional solutions to fight obesity and reduce portion sizes (warnings, labels, taxes, bans) have had limited success because they come at an economic cost for the food industry and at a hedonic cost for people who want to eat the food that they know and like. My research suggests that it is possible to encourage people to choose, and actually prefer, smaller food portions. One way is to help people realise that, because of our visual biases, we all underestimate how large today’s food portions have become. Another way is for the food industry to focus on the sensory pleasure of eating, rather than on food quantity, or even health arguments.
And to close, your personal thoughts…?
Ellen: I feel it is a privilege to serve on this advisory council with a distinguished panel of experts from around the world. Clearly, health and wellness concerns may have local inflections, but there is a global concern that surpasses these local, national issues.
Stephan: We need to get going as time is running. We have to learn from each other and we have to be creative. Let´s do it! We must act ASAP…
James: I urge CFG companies to work to find a way to achieve financial success by helping people be healthier and well.
Pierre: The assumption underlying most of our current thinking is that pleasure must be sacrificed for the sake of good health. Au contraire, as we say in France, I believe that pleasure can be the ally of healthier eating, a triple win for public health, CGF companies, and food wellbeing.
This Q&A was conducted and reported on by:
Director, Health & Wellness
The Consumer Goods Forum