Opinion

Michelle Obama: Businesses should make healthier choices for consumers

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Michal Conger

Michelle Obama took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal this morning to make the case that having grocery stores and restaurants tailor their offerings to fight obesity makes sound business sense.

The first lady’s op-ed comes in the middle of  a two-day “Let’s Move!” tour, perhaps as a teaser to her  “major announcement”  today in Chicago about bringing more activity to schools.

Through “Let’s Move!”, her campaign to end childhood obesity, the first lady has encouraged  grocery stores to offer more produce and less sugary food options. Walmart has been a focal point of her efforts, and the company has jumped on board to open more stores in “food deserts” and sell cheaper produce — choices, Obama said, that have paid off for the business and customers.

Not only do consumers benefit from buying more apples, but having businesses push healthy food choices reduces health care costs for everyone, she wrote:

These trends don’t just matter for businesses that produce and sell food. They matter for every business in America. We spend $190 billion a year treating obesity-related health conditions like diabetes and heart disease, and a significant portion of those costs are borne by America’s businesses. That’s on top of other health-related costs like higher absenteeism and lower worker productivity, costs that will continue to rise and threaten the vitality of American businesses until this problem is solved once and for all.

Now Obama wants more businesses to tailor their products to “Let’s Move!” specifications — whether it brings in revenue or not.

We need more leaders from all across the country to step up, and I stand ready to work with business leaders who are serious about taking meaningful steps to forge a healthier future. We need every business in America to dig deeper, get more creative, and find new ways to generate revenue by giving American families better information and healthier choices. We know this can be done in a way that’s good for our kids and good for businesses.

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