After years of being blamed for making Americans fat and months of scrutiny — thanks to the first lady's laser-like focus on obesity — food companies are biting back at critics by pledging to cut out excess calories from their products.
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Michelle Obama tours a Philadelphia supermarket in March while stumping for healthier eating.
Michelle Obama tours a Philadelphia supermarket in March while stumping for healthier eating. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
But as food and nutrition maven Marion Nestle asks on the website of the Atlantic: "Is this a great step forward or a crass food industry publicity stunt?"
It will probably take some time to sort out.
The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, a coalition of major foodmakers, has pledged to work with Mrs. Obama and cut the extra 1.5 trillion calories out of our diets by the end of 2015.
The companies "will pursue their calorie reduction goal by developing and introducing lower-calorie options, changing recipes where possible to lower the calorie content of current products, or reducing portion sizes of existing single-serve products," according to their press release.
But won't we just eat more?
The Mayo Clinic says we can eat more — of the right kinds of foods. Foods low in calories with lots of water and fiber, like fruits and vegetables, that help us feel full.
But these aren't typically the foods that require the food industry to manipulate calories or place them in cuter, smaller packages.
Still, it may be a step in the right direction. These companies, including household names like Campbell Soup, Kellogg's and Mars, account for up to 25 percent of the nation's food supply, ABC notes.
The food industry has also asked the no-nonsense Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to vet its efforts and assess the impact on the calorie intake of kids and teens.
We'll just have to wait until 2015 to see the public report.