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Kraft, PepsiCo Pledge to Aid First Lady’s Campaign

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May 17 (Bloomberg) -- First lady Michelle Obama won pledges today from food and beverage companies including Campbell Soup Co., Kraft Foods Inc., Kellogg Co., General Mills Inc. and PepsiCo Inc. to reduce the calorie counts in their products.

The companies, part of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, vowed to cut 1 trillion calories from their products in 2012 and 1.5 trillion calories from them by the end of 2015. They aim to do this by providing lower-calorie options, changing recipes or reducing portion sizes, according to a statement from the group, which includes 80 of the largest U.S. food and beverage manufacturers.

The foundation’s members produce roughly 20 percent to 25 percent of the U.S. food supply.

Michelle Obama, who is campaigning to cut childhood obesity, said today the pledge is “precisely the kind of real private-sector commitment that we need” for her Let’s Move! initiative.

The campaign “is providing a new level of leadership and momentum on childhood obesity,” Kellogg Chief Executive Officer David Mackay, chairman of the foundation, said at a joint press conference with the first lady. He said Obama’s effort is “encouraging parents and all stakeholders to take positive action.”

‘Energy Balance’

Mackay, whose company is the largest U.S. maker of breakfast cereal, said exercise is a critical tool in the fight against childhood obesity. “This concept of energy balance -- calories in balanced with calories out -- is critical to successfully addressing this,” he said.

The foundation signed the agreement with the Partnership for a Healthier America, a nonpartisan group working to advance the goals of the first lady’s campaign. Michelle Obama is honorary chairman of the partnerships.

Obama is prodding the $600 billion food and beverage industries to make their products healthier, to make labels easier to read and to limit marketing of unhealthy foods to children.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kate Andersen Brower in Washington at Kandersen7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tackett at mtackett@bloomberg.net