May 4, 2023
Yesterday at The Wall Street Journal's Future of Everything Festival, former First Lady Michelle Obama delivered closing remarks on the state of children's health in the US, urging industry leaders in the room and streaming online to be part of the change that will bring this generation of kids into a healthier future.
As part of her remarks, Obama announced the launch of PLEZi Nutrition, a public benefit company with the goal of creating higher standards for how the US makes and markets food and beverages for kids.
Building on her efforts in the White House with her Let's Move! initiative, Obama is a co-founder and strategic partner with PLEZi Nutrition. She is working behind-the-scenes to guide the company's mission to be a driver of change and a model for how food and beverage brands can support the health of our next generation.
"I've learned that on this issue, if you want to change the game, you can't just work from the outside. You've got to get inside — you've got to find ways to change the food and beverage industry itself," said Obama in her remarks at the festival. "I'm proud to announce the national launch of a company designed not just to provide better products, but to jumpstart a race to the top that will transform the entire food industry."
PLEZi Nutrition was created to give parents a helping hand by offering healthier, great-tasting products that parents can feel good about giving their kids and that kids actually want. The company is focused on lowering sugar content and lowering sweetness to help adjust kids' palates to crave less sweetness overall. In addition to reducing the sugar and sweetness, they are adding in nutrients kids need, with the aim to replace sugary drinks and snacks.
The company's first product is a kids' drink called PLEZi that has 75% less sugar than average leading 100% fruit juices, no added sugar, plus fiber and nutrients, like potassium, magnesium, and zinc. The drink is available in four flavors nationwide at Target and Sprouts, and online at Walmart. The company hopes to be available anywhere a soda or sports drink can be bought. The company plans to expand into additional beverages and snacks in the years ahead.
More than an effort to create better products, PLEZi will also provide an educational platform for parents and kids. A sizable portion of the marketing budget will be dedicated to promotional content around what's best for kids' health. The company will actively promote drinking water and eating whole fruits and vegetables.
Obama also announced a Kitchen Cabinet advisory group of experts in nutrition, public health, and parenting who will guide and advise the company's educational efforts, as well as marketing approaches and product development. Advisory committee members include:
Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, president emerita and former CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and professor emerita, RWJF Population Health and Health Equity, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Emily Oster, PhD, professor at Brown University, NYT best selling author, public health economist, and parenting expert
Christina Economos, PhD, professor of Nutrition and the New Balance Chair in Childhood Nutrition at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University
Donna Martin, EdS, RDN, SNS, director School Nutrition Program, Burke County, Georgia Schools
Shale Wong, MD, MSPH, pediatrician and professor of Pediatrics and Family Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine; director of the Eugene S. Farley, Jr. Health Policy Center; and vice chair for Policy and Advocacy in the Department of Pediatrics
Debra Eschmeyer, former executive director of Obama's Let's Move! initiative and senior advisor to President Barack Obama for Nutrition Policy; founder and partner of public affairs agency Original Strategies, and food systems policy expert. Eschmeyer will serve as chair of the PLEZi Nutrition Kitchen Cabinet.
Obama also announced an initial donation of $1 million to FoodCorps' Nourishing Futures initiative, which is working to ensure all 50 million students across the country have access to nutrition education and free school meals by 2030.
Moving forward, PLEZi Nutrition will be investing 10% of profits back into the broader movement to promote kids' health.
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