The Partnership for a Healthier America is hosting a summit next week in Chicago that brings together food companies, providers, policymakers and thought leaders in the healthcare space to address one of the most pressing social determinants of health: obesity. Modern Healthcare's Population Health Reporter Steven Ross Johnson recently talked with Nancy Roman, President and CEO of the not-for-profit about the organization's efforts. Roman works closely with Former First Lady Michelle Obama who launched the Let's Move campaign during her time in the White House and is the Honorary Chair of the Partnership for a Healthier America. The following is an edited transcript.
MH: What are you seeing as far as solutions to the obesity problem?
Roman: A lot of big consumer packaged good companies have really taken a lot of the salt, and fat, and sugar out of their foods. And part of what we're seeing now is people are looking at portion control, and mindful eating. When you remove sugar from yogurt, it begins to affect palate for people who consume that product regularly. When you bring portion size down to a reasonable amount for a treat, it begins to shape what the American consumer expects in terms of size and amount of treat.
But we're also seeing artificial intelligence moving in on marketing. We see a big shift where the advertising industry is really moving to the individual consumer over social media. You can't capture 40% of the nation on Sunday night TV with a food ad. It's going to the individual. So that gives retail more power. I think we really have to be mindful of it, from a social justice perspective, because if you're optimizing every single consumer based on their personal preferences, you can envision a world where the already healthy and many times wealthy, get healthier, and those who aren't so healthy get optimized for inexpensive, refined carbohydrates that are really causing some of the problems. So that's an area we have our eye on as well.