I am sure that you have heard the news by now – The Mars Corporation will no longer make king-sized versions of their candy bars and the company has decided to reduce the size of their standard candy bar . There are two interesting aspects about this move:

  1. This decision subtly closes the breadth of consumer freedoms when it comes to dietary choices.
  2. The Mars Corporation signed a pledge with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign.

There are many public health proponents who believe that in order to achieve the greatest impact on many chronic disease outcomes (e.g. obesity, smoking, high blood pressure), then public health must get in the business of changing laws so that people are forced to make healthier lifestyle decisions. If you really want to geek out on this concept, you can access the peer-reviewed article from this link (with a subscription, of course – nothing is free in this world….shameful, I know). Removing the option for king-sized candy bar indulgence limits the probability that people will consume 500 calories in one 2 minute diabetic coma-inducing sitting.  And, if someone craves more than a regular-sized bar, then they will be forced to buy two – which is not necessarily a deal for the consumer, but a major benefit to the bottom line of the Mars corporation. Basically, if you want to be a fat kid that loves candy bars, you will pay more for that decision. It is Big Brother’s way of subtly slapping you on the hand for making a poor health decision – but does this move go too far and impede on the consumer’s freedom of choice? Truthfully, I enjoy an occasional king-sized Peanut M&M’s package (the regular sized pack contains like 8 pieces of candy *blank stare*).

And, if you sincerely think that it does infringe upon consumer choice – Do we really have the power to stop these types of corporate/government partnerships? Think about it, really. Who can make a sound argument, in good consciousness, against a decision that could impact the nation’s health as a whole – for the good?  Side note: trust me, it’s possible – insert everyone involved in the immunization debate:

So, this ‘pledge’ makes sense. It offers a win-win for both the public health advocates and the private corporations. What are your thoughts on this decision? Some background is below – FYI.

According to CNN:

Have you ever stood near the checkout of a grocery store and stared at the rack of chocolate bars, debating whether anyone would judge you for buying the king-size? You know the regular size is enough to satisfy your craving, but the bigger candy bar is only 40 cents more and it just… Looks. So. Good. Worry no more – Mars, Inc. is going taking that decision out of your hands. The company that produces M&Ms, 3 Musketeers, Snickers and Twix bars has vowed to stop shipping any Mars chocolate products that exceed 250 calories per portion by the end of 2013. Right now a regular Snickers bar has 280 calories and each Twix cookie bar has 130 calories (but let’s be honest, who eats just one?). Mars will most likely stop producing its king-sized candy bars all together since the large Snickers bar weighs in at 510 calories.

“We have a responsibility to help our consumers and the pets they love lead healthy lives,” Mars said in a statement on its website. “We are committed to making sure the products we offer, and the ingredients they contain, can fit into a balanced diet.”

Mars also produces Dove chocolate bars, multiple kinds of pet food, several gum brands and Uncle Ben’s rice products. This move is part of an agreement Mars signed with Michelle Obama’s Partnership for a Healthier America. Mars is part of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, a group of 16 manufacturers who have pledged to reduce 1.5 trillion calories by the end of 2015 through lower-calorie options and reducing portion sizes.

“America’s food and beverage companies have a strong track record of innovation and providing consumers with healthier products,” said Lisa Gable, executive director of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation in a press release. “The Foundation’s member companies are giving Americans tools to reduce calorie consumption.” Mars’ statement goes on to note that the company has removed 97% of the trans fat in their chocolate products and plans to “reduce sodium levels in all Mars Food products globally by 25 percent by 2015.” Mars has not addressed the total number of fat grams in each product or the amount of sugar – factors most experts agree play a big role in weight gain, especially for children.

To view the nutrition information for Mars Corporation products, please visit: http://www.marshealthyliving.com/whats-inside

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