Inside General Mills

General Mills works for healthier Australia


General Mills Global Communications

To encourage Australians to live healthier and active lifestyles with the goal to reduce preventable diseases such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes, the Australian Food and Grocery Council and several food companies including General Mills have launched the “Healthier Australia Commitment.”
 
General Mills is a foundation member of the initiative, as are food companies Unilever, Campbell Arnott’s, Nestle and Coca-Cola. By 2015, these companies have pledged to work together to deliver collective targets of reducing sodium and saturated fat by 25 percent.

Being a voluntary initiative, each company will determine their own strategies and goals to contribute to the Healthier Australia Commitment. All collective targets may not be applicable to each member company.

Francine Gauci, General Mills Australia’s nutritionist, says the “Healthier Australia Commitment” aligns with the company’s corporate values and mission of “Nourishing Lives.”

“General Mills Australia has been active in the health renovation space for several years, and already made significant achievements toward improving the health profile of our foods, most notably in Old El Paso by reducing sodium and saturated fats. We shall continue our work in the improvement of the nutritional profile of our products,” Gauci says.

Three keys
The three key elements of the “Healthier Australia Commitment” focus on:

  • Marketplace: improving the nutritional profile of foods.
  • Workplace: promoting employee health and wellness initiatives within the food and grocery industry.
  • Community: educating Australians about the importance of a balanced diet, and a healthy, active lifestyle.

The initiative’s website, Together Counts, includes helpful information about energy balance that will be promoted beginning in early 2013.

The Australia initiative is in line with several other efforts General Mills is participating in worldwide:

  • In the United States, the Together Counts initiative also promotes energy balance.
  • In the UK, we have signed on to the “Responsibility Deal,” which is a set of voluntary agreements covering food, physical activity and health at work that is backed by the UK’s Department of Health.
  • In Canada, we are one of several companies to join Health Canada’s support of a multifaceted educational campaign to help Canadians better understand the nutrition fact panel found on food products.
  • We are also working with the World Health Organization in many parts of the world on several health-related issues.

Follows U.S. pledge
In the U.S., we have pledged to lower sugar levels in our cereals advertised to kids under 12 to single-digit levels per serving, and to reduce the sodium by 20 percent, on average, in more than 400 of our U.S. Retail products by 2015.

And last month, our Cereal Partners Worldwide joint venture with Nestlé announced it will reduce the sugar content of 20 Nestlé breakfast cereal brands popular with children and teenagers to 9 grams or less per serving by the end of 2015.

Obesity epidemic
In Australia, the nationwide campaign has been in the works for 18 months.

Gauci notes that half of Australia’s adults are overweight or obese, as well as 22 percent of children. People who are overweight run a greater risk of developing chronic health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Type 2 diabetes has more than doubled in the last 20 years in Australia, she notes.

“Increasing rates of cardiovascular disease and diabetes are placing a significant burden on health care systems,” says Gauci. “More than one-third of all premature deaths in Australia are the result of chronic diseases that could have been prevented, many of which are mediated by obesity.”

 
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