Nearly a third of the children in America are obese. According to the Obesity Action Coalition, obesity is the most common chronic childhood disease with the number of obese children more than tripling since 1980. More and more children are being diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension and other conditions associated with being overweight. As a nation, we spend 86% of our healthcare dollars on the treatment of chronic diseases that—like obesity—are preventable and compromise our quality of life.
In March 2014, Sodexo joined the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) in the fight against childhood obesity with six new commitments to encourage healthy choices for healthy families.
We know from experience that addressing childhood obesity will require shifting behaviors of both children and the important role models in their lives. Sodexo has an enormous opportunity to promote healthier behaviors. The changes we are making as a result of our commitments to PHA address how we serve children and their role models on campus, in the workplace, at hospitals, in schools and at our cultural destinations. These changes are making a difference to the 15 million consumers we serve each day throughout North America, including the more than 2 million school children we serve meals to daily. We have been working closely with PHA and unbiased third parties in an extensive process to monitor and publicly report on our progress.
Our commitments to PHA include:
1: Mindful Healthy Dining Program
To expand the reach and level of our Mindful Healthy Dining Program to promote healthy lifestyles for Americans in the workplace and on college campuses. This will allow these locations to achieve Sodexo’s gold standard for wellness throughout the dining environment.
2: Healthy Vending Program
To increase the healthy food options in Sodexo-operated vending machines. These vending machines will offer and highlight a new level of healthier choices.
3: Hospital Healthy Food Initiative
To implement PHA’s Hospital Healthy Food Initiative in Sodexo-operated accounts.
4: Smarter Lunchroom Program
We will create Smarter Lunchroom Programs in Sodexo-operated primary and secondary school accounts.
5: Free Breakfast Program
We will increase participation in free school breakfasts at Sodexo-operated primary and secondary school accounts.
6: Healthier Children’s Meals at Cultural Destinations
We will promote healthier children’s meals at Sodexo-operated cultural destinations such as our zoo, museum and aquarium accounts.
This case study provides an update on where we currently are with each of these commitments. We believe the strength of these actions will not only positively impact our communities, but also move the food service industry toward delivering more nutritious options everywhere in the U.S.