This spring, 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 United States. Addressing thousands of industry leaders in attendance and streaming online, urging those to be part of the change — bringing this generation of kids into a healthier future — Obama announced the launch of PLEZi Nutrition, a public benefit company on a mission to create higher standards for how the United States makes and markets food and beverages for children.
“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 the former first lady 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.”
As co-founder and strategic partner at PLEZi Nutrition, Washington, D.C, Obama is not alone in building on her eﬀorts in the White House with her Let’s Move! Initiative, as Sam Kass, former senior policy advisor for nutrition in the Obama administration and the executive director of the Let’s Move! Campaign, now serves as PLEZi Nutrition Board Chair.
Kass describes the former first lady’s role in PLEZi as a guiding force for creating change for the future — ultimately achieving the company’s vision of raising a healthier generation of kids.
“We created PLEZi 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,” Kass says. “While other companies add in sweeteners to replace sugar, they might make their drinks taste just as sweet or even sweeter than they would with sugar. But we are focused on lowering sweetness because we want to help adjust kids’ palates to crave less sweetness overall.
“Our goal is less sugar, less sweetness, and more nutrients while tasting great because otherwise, kids will just keep choosing soda and other sugary drinks,” he continues.
Where the company stresses the importance of kids’ continuing to drink milk and water, Kass points to PLEZI’s four drink options ― Tropical Punch, Blueberry Blast, Orange Smash and Sour Apple ― as great replacements for sodas or sports drinks for kids ages six and up.
“Kids are not getting the recommended levels of nutrients they need, and they are consuming far too much added sugar — on average, 53 pounds of added sugar per year,” he says. “We know that hands-down the best thing for kids to drink is water and milk. [But] the reality is that two in every three kids in America are drinking a sugary beverage, like a soda or sports drink, on a given day, and they are the leading source of added sugars.
“PLEZi has 75% less sugar than average leading 100% fruit juices, no added sugar, plus nutrients, like potassium, magnesium and zinc,” Kass continues. “There are 6 grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving of PLEZi, while the leading 100% fruit juices average over 25 grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving. PLEZi also has fiber, which 100% juices often lack.”
All eyes on the future
Along with creating healthy products, Kass points to PLEZi’s educational platform for parents and kids that’s headed-up by The PLEZi Nutrition Kitchen Cabinet Advisory Committee, a group of experts in nutrition, public health and parenting who advise the company’s educational efforts, as well as marketing approaches and product development.
“We’ve only just launched, but you can check out our new blog: nothingtosugarcoat.com to learn and hear the latest from the PLEZi Nutrition Kitchen Cabinet Advisory Committee,” he says.
Further, as giving back to the community is another key component in making efforts that impact children’s health, Kass points to the company working with FoodCorps, an American nonprofit organization whose mission is to work with communities to “connect kids” to healthy food in school.
“PLEZi Nutrition launched with an initial donation of $1 million to FoodCorps’ Nourishing Futures initiative,” Kass says. “By 2030, FoodCorps wants every student ― all 50 million of them ― to have access to food education and nourishing food in schools.
“We’re proud to be a supporter and partner in this critical work through this initial donation and ongoing investment in FoodCorps,” he continues. “Going forward, PLEZi Nutrition will be investing 10% of profits directly back into the broader movement to promote kids’ health.”
Today, PLEZi currently is available at Walmart, Target, Sprouts Farmers Market, and Kroger, but Kass notes that “PLEZi Nutrition plans to expand beyond this first drink to include other beverages and snacks as well.”
“Ultimately, PLEZi’s goal is to be available anywhere you can buy a soda or sports drink,” Kass says. “We look forward to continued retail expansion that will make PLEZi more accessible to families across the country.”