out the company; enhance the company’s reporting systems to track and make available the company’s impact on diet, physical activity, and health; and strengthen existing self-regulatory advertising codes (Lang et al., 2006).
The International Business Leaders Forum and Insight Investment (2006) have released a proposed draft framework that describes potential components of a comprehensive response to preventing obesity and chronic diseases. These components include undertaking an assessment of health-related business benefits and risks, establishing business objectives in response to obesity and health issues, and developing a companywide strategy for reaching the objectives. Furthermore, the framework suggests that companies establish relevant governance mechanisms at the highest levels (e.g., shareholders and company boards) so that the need for responsibility and accountability to address consumer health issues and integrate healthy lifestyle principles and objectives into their annual corporate reporting process is transmitted through the company.
Both qualitative and quantitative indicators can be used to assess industry initiatives and effectiveness. Qualitative measures include changes in the food industry management structure, and establishing senior-level positions or divisions that oversee a company’s nutrition, health, and wellness activities. This serves as an indicator that health and obesity prevention are being given special attention and are an integral part of the business plan. Establishment of external advisory panels to advise the company about their products, marketing, and other activities is another indicator that a company is serious about the issue. Participating in and convening stakeholder dialogues addressing childhood obesity are also signals that a company is seeking to better understand the issue and is interested in taking action to address it.
Indicators of progress for food and beverage manufacturers include changes in product content (e.g., the development of new products or the reformulation of existing products) and packaging (e.g., the creation of calorie-controlled packages and containers) that support consumers’ efforts to reduce excess energy consumption. Increasing the numbers of packaged or restaurant food items that meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, reducing the package sizes for products high in energy density and total calories, providing more prominent label information conveying the total calorie content of a typical serving, and providing nutrition information for restaurant foods, beverages, and meals are all important steps in childhood obesity prevention efforts. Changes in marketing and advertising practices are also essential so that children and youth are not the focus of efforts to promote foods and beverages of poor nutritional quality and high energy density.
Quantitative measures include the number of new healthful product introductions over a specified time period and the sales and market shares