Attributing more than 300,000 U.S. deaths a year to the consequences of over-indulgence and lack of exercise, the surgeon general has released a “Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity.” The report suggests strategies for communities to address the problem. Among the ideas presented are:
  • Physical education at all school grades
  • More healthy food options on campuses
  • Safe and accessible recreational facilities for residents of all ages.

Surgeon general David Satcher states, “Overweight and obesity may soon cause as much preventable disease and death as cigarette smoking (which currently accounts for more than 400,000 deaths annually). People tend to think of overweight and obesity as strictly a personal matter, but there is much that communities can and should do to address these problems.”

Without question, the numbers bear out Satcher's arguments. Adult obesity has doubled since 1980, while adolescents have seen their obesity levels triple. Some 61% of U.S. adults were classified as overweight in 1999, when 13% of children and adolescents shared the undistinguished distinction. Furthermore, the report states only 3% of Americans meet at least four of the five federal Food Guide Pyramid recommendations for the intake of dairy products, fruits, grains, meats and vegetables.

The weighty issue knows no gender or cultural boundaries. In women, the numbers were higher among members of racial and ethnic minority populations than in non-Hispanic white women. Among men, Mexican-Americans posted a higher prevalence of overweight and obesity than non-Hispanic men. Non-Hispanic white men were overweight in greater numbers than non-Hispanic black men.

Satcher associated the tubby trend with dramatic increases in conditions such as asthma, and in Type 2 diabetes among children. He further stated that failing to address the issues “could wipe out some of the gains we have made in areas such as heart disease, several forms of cancer and other chronic health problems.”

The surgeon general's “Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity” is available at

Points of Interest

Continental Colloids, Inc. has changed its name to Continental Custom Ingredients, Inc.

Givaudan will buy the FIS flavors unit of Nestle SA for $450 million in cash, stock and assumed debt.

Technology Flavors & Fragrances, Inc. and Belmay Holding Corp. have, by mutual agreement, determined not to proceed with their proposed merger.

Sodiaal has sold a 50% stake in Yoplait yogurt brand to PAI Management.

Start Getting Real

The Food Institute has determined that “real” (deflated) sales in grocery stores across the country fell 0.49% in 2001—a dramatic drop from the estimated 1.93% increase in 2000 (compared with 1999). The Food Institute derives these numbers by deflating changes in Bureau of Census unadjusted sales figures by changes in the Food Institute's grocery store price index (weighted for food and non-food products moving through the grocery sector).

Where groceries may have suffered, restaurants posted a 1.79% increase in “real” sales for the full year, though this was still below last year's estimated “real” sales growth. Foodservice outlets posted a strong December, with “real” sales jumping 2.6%.

At-home food price inflation jumped 3.3%—its highest rate in five years—according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overall at-home food price inflation stood at 2.3% in 2000, after consecutive 1.9% gains in 1999 and 1998.

Advance retail sales figures from the Bureau of Census showed $434.4 billion in total dollar sales for 2001. That 3% gain from 2000 is slightly less than consumer at-home price inflation for the year. The largest percentage increase in 2001 was found in beer, wine and liquor stores, where total dollar volume hit over $30 billion-4.6% more than 2000.

Points of Interest

The Nestle USA-Beverage Division and Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. have formed a long-term strategic operations alliance. Within the alliance, Nestle will transition its manufacturing of Libby's Juicy Juice and Libby's Kerns Nectars to Ocean Spray facilities. The companies also will pursue collaborative procurement of common raw and packaging materials, and common operating supplies, as well as shared logistics.

Mexico's Grupo Bimbo will acquire five U.S. bakeries from Canada's George Weston Ltd. in a $610 million deal. The acquisitions will give the firm exclusive rights in the U.S. to Oroweat bread and Entenmann's baked goods, as well as Western distribution rights to Thomas' English Muffins and Boboli pizza kits.