Some of the nation's largest food companies have cut daily calorie counts by an average of 78 per person, a new study says, more than four times the amount the industry pledged to slash by next year. The study sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that between 2007 and 2012, the estimated total cut in food product calories from a group of 16 major food companies was in the range of 6.4 trillion. Seventy-eight calories would be about the same as an average cookie or a medium apple, and the federal government estimates an average daily diet at around 2,000 calories. The study said the calories cut averaged out to 78 calories per day for the entire US population.
The 2010 pledge taken by the companies—including General Mills, Campbell Soup, ConAgra Foods, Kraft Foods, Kellogg, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Hershey—was to cut 1 trillion calories by 2012 and 1.5 trillion calories by 2015. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation signed on to hold the companies accountable, and that group hired researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to painstakingly count the calories in almost every single packaged item in the grocery store. To meet the commitment, the companies took a variety of approaches. Coca-Cola, for instance, said it had introduced more than 100 no-calorie and low-calorie beverages in the last seven years and had introduced mini-cans of many of its products. Kraft said it had changed recipes to lower sugars in Capri Sun juice drinks and Kraft barbecue sauce.