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Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up?
ways in which companies demonstrate their social responsibility are to provide health care insurance, to provide work site health promotion and wellness services for their employees and their employees’ family members, and to fund and support community activities and services (GMA, 2006; Kreuter, 2005; Snider et al., 2003). Work sites are also an important venue for reaching parents with messages and educational materials about childhood obesity prevention.
A number of corporations are actively involved in community initiatives related to obesity prevention and increasing the levels of physical activity among adults and young people, often through the public-private partnerships discussed above. Examples include NikeGO (sponsored by Nike, Inc.); Girls on the Run (2006) (sponsored by New Balance and Kellogg’s); PE4Life (2006) (sponsored by multiple companies including New Balance, Reebok, Russell Athletic, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and the National Sporting Goods Association, and several PepsiCo companies [Quaker, Gatorade, and Tropicana]); and America on the Move (including Latinos en Movimiento). These partnerships have multiple sponsors including the PepsiCo Corporate Fund and Cargill (America on the Move, 2006; National Council of La Raza, 2006). These are all examples of corporate-sponsored public-private partnerships that focus on increasing physical activity in adults and young people. Further efforts are needed to effectively engage the food, beverage, and restaurant industries in supporting community-based initiatives that focus on increasing access to healthful and affordable foods, such as the promotion of farmers’ markets and new food retail establishments in low-income communities.
Corporate social reporting, the public reporting of socially responsible activities and behaviors, has grown considerably in recent years. Public reporting of nonfinancial performance is driven by public relations, competition, greater attention to the role of companies in promoting health by the nonprofit sector, and the growing presence and influence of institutional investors (Lang et al., 2006). An analysis of 25 of the leading global food manufacturers, retailers, and restaurants was conducted to examine the companies’ corporate responsibility documents to explore their position on recommendations relevant to the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity, and Health (WHO, 2004). The analysis found that although 23 of the 25 companies had corporate social responsibility reports or statements of purpose and values related to nonfinancial company goals, only 11 of the companies made reference to health in their reports (e.g., Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, Kroger, McDonald’s Corporation, and Yum! Brands). Additionally, the meaning of “health” in the company reporting varied from being broad and vague to more specific and measurable (Lang et al., 2006). The researchers concluded that the companies can do much more to elevate diet, health, and physical activity to the