NEW YORK (CBS4) – The country’s largest retailer is going healthy thanks to a bit of a push from First Lady Michelle Obama.
“It’s a victory for parents, it’s a victory for families, but most of all it’s a victory for our children,” said Mrs. Obama.
That victory is Walmart’s commitment to reformulate thousands of food products to make them healthier. Company executives have promised that over the next five years, they’ll cut sodium by 25-percent, added sugars by 10-percent and get rid of trans fat altogether in food products marketed under their name. They also said they would cut the cost of fruit and vegetables by a billion dollars a year to make them more accessible to low-income families.
Mrs. Obama made healthy eating a top priority as soon as she arrived at the White House, even planting an organic garden there. This new project is a major push to bring that healthier lifestyle to the rest of the country.
Walmart said in addition to improving its own products, it will also pressure its suppliers to make healthier foods. Loyal Walmart customers like Vonetta Ewing said that’s all good as long as the prices are kept low.
“I’m always checking prices you know, always trying to check for one that’s healthy and then you know what has the best cost to it,” said Ewing.
Studies have found that people with lower incomes have a harder time sticking to a nutritious diet.because healthier foods cost more and they’re harder to find in poor neighborhoods.
Critics said if Walmart really wanted to fight obesity, it could make more dramatic improvement faster. But Mrs. Obama hopes a company with so much clout, and 140 million customers, will steer the rest of the industry down a healthier path.