PLEZi Nutrition, a public benefit company on a mission to create higher standards for how the U.S. makes and markets food and beverages for kids, leading with nutrition, taste, and truth, announced that former First Lady Michelle Obama has joined the company as a co-founder and strategic partner.
The announcement came at The Wall Street Journal's Future of Everything Festival where Obama delivered closing remarks on the state of children's health in the U.S. and urged the thousands of 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.
“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,” Obama stated in her remarks at The Wall Street Journal Future of Everything 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, it notes. 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, all with the aim to replace sugary drinks and snacks.
PLEZi Nutrition's first product — a kids’ drink called PLEZi — has 75% less sugar than average leading 100% fruit juices, no added sugar, plus fiber and nutrients, like potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Currently available in four flavors nationwide at Target and Sprouts and online at Walmart, PLEZi’s goal is to ultimately be available anywhere you can buy a soda or sports drink. The company plans to expand into additional beverages and snacks in the years ahead.
More than an effort to create better products, PLEZi Nutrition also will 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 says. PLEZi Nutrition believes kids should be drinking water as their primary beverage. The company will actively promote drinking water and eating whole fruits and vegetables. PLEZi is intended to replace sugary drinks and snacks that do not support kids’ health and to help promote healthier habits, it adds.
In her remarks, 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. The PLEZi Nutrition Kitchen Cabinet Advisory Committee members are comprised of the following:
• 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 Mrs. 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.
Giving back is another key component of PLEZi Nutrition's efforts to make a meaningful impact on kids’ health. Obama 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. Going forward, PLEZi Nutrition will invest 10% of profits right back into the broader movement to promote kids' health, it states.
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