June 12, 2014

Alliance for a Healthier Generation Statement in Response to “A Healthy Bottom Line: Obese Children, a Pacified Public, and Corporate Legitimacy”

In the article published by Social Currents, June 2014, “A Healthy Bottom Line: Obese Children, a Pacified Public, and Corporate Legitimacy,” the author falsely asserts that the Alliance for a Healthier Generation engages the food industry in anti-childhood obesity efforts with the goal of maximizing corporate profit.

Approximately one in three children in the United States is either obese or overweight, and childhood obesity is widely considered to be one of the gravest public health threats facing the nation. Over the past decade, the Alliance has become one of the most important forces in the US for child obesity prevention, through its work improving physical activity and nutrition practices in more than 24,000 schools and out-of-school-time sites, increasing access to preventive health care for obesity for nearly 3 million children, and negotiating with food and beverage companies to improve the nutritional quality of the products they sell to schools.

In 2006 the Alliance negotiated a landmark agreement with the beverage industry that ended the sale of full calorie soft drinks to schools and led to a 90% reduction in beverage calories shipped to the nation’s schools -- hardly an increase in company “bottom line.” Agreements negotiated by the Alliance with food manufacturers have resulted in more than 30 million students across the country accessing healthier school foods as a cost-neutral alternative to unhealthy, processed products from these same companies.

The author claims that three and a half years of research informed her article, and yet the Alliance did not receive one fact-checking inquiry. Dr. Ken would have learned that instead of engaging corporations for “its own profit-maximizing end,” the not-for-profit Alliance enforces a strict policy of zero contributions from food and beverage companies. In truth, the Alliance’s real and sole profit-maximizing end is to enrich all children so that they may lead healthier, longer lives.

Howell Wechsler, EdD, MPH
Chief Executive Officer
Alliance for a Healthier Generation