Why Does Walmart Need 5 Years to Roll Out Its Healthy Food Initiative?

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Can Walmart's just released "Healthy Food Initiative" really save lives? Or is it simply an excellent public relations and marketing campaign?

Well ... yes, and yes.

Since Walmart is in the moneymaking business (not the saving lives business), I imagine this new initiative is first and foremost a marketing and PR plan. But as far as I'm concerned, there really isn't anything wrong with that, just as long as they really do make the changes they say they will.

Walmart's initiative says they will:

  • Reduce sugar by 10% in its store brand line.
  • Reduce sodium by 25% in its store brand line.
  • Get rid of remaining (industrial produced) trans fats from its foods.
  • Reduce the prices of their healthier foods such as fresh produce.

I've been writing about the deadly effects of childhood (and adult) obesity for years now, and it's the major changes such as the ones Walmart is proposing that stand the best chance of curbing the epidemic of obesity in our country.

Even First Lady Michelle Obama is on-board with Walmart's initiative.

First Lady Michelle Obama joined America's largest grocery chain, Walmart, Thursday to announce that the Fortune 500 company has a five-year plan to increase healthy food offerings, reduce fresh produce prices, and improve access to affordable food, a move intended to complement Mrs. Obama's campaign to combat childhood obesity.

But wait. What's with the five-year plan?

This is where I become unimpressed with the Walmart initiative, (even a little angry). It's like telling a cancer patient that there is a cure, but the plans are to make the cure available in five years. If you know that something can save thousands of lives now, why would you take five years to initiate it? It makes no sense to me at all. Granted, I can see the FDA or other government agencies needing five years to implement something like this, but we're talking about friggin' Walmart, for gosh sakes. I don't believe for a minute that they couldn't get this rolled out in record time if they wanted to.

Walmart truly has the unique opportunity to lead the way with their Healthy Food Initiative, and there is no doubt in my mind that the other food chains would follow. But time isn't on our side with this, healthy food needs to be available at affordable prices now. We've talked about it long enough -- it's time to take REAL action (not baby steps).

Let me talk to Walmart directly for a minute.

Hi Walmart, it's me, Catherine.

Please, don't wait ... America needs your Healthy Food Initiative right now. Please do right by us. Be a pioneer of the food industry now, and you will be a hero to America later. Then put your five-year plan to better use by coming up with even more ideas to encourage your customers to make healthy food choices -- heck, I could come up with at least a half-dozen ideas right now that could benefit both your company and it's customers.

That's all, I'll jump off my soapbox now.

Anyway, what do all of you think about Walmart's healthy food initiative? Is it exactly what this country needs? Or is it a marketing scheme to trick us into thinking they care about our health and well-being? I hope you'll let me know your thoughts in comments.

Photo Credit: mjb84.

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
Also at Catherine-Morgan.com

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