Topics considered by the group included promotion of the desirability of healthy choices; better collection of data on marketing to children; and the promotion of fruits, vegetables, and grains. The one topic that received more attention than the others was the development of food technologies that promote healthy weight, for example, products with fewer calories per weight or volume. Several group members observed that focusing more narrowly on pro–healthy weight technologies would be less contentious than focusing more broadly on reducing overall calorie consumption. Many group members also raised the promotion of physical activity as another possible target for a public–private collaboration aimed at reducing obesity. As with pro–healthy weight technologies, focusing more narrowly on physical activity would be less contentious than focusing more broadly on reducing overall calorie consumption. As they said, “Nobody has to give up profit in order to promote physical activity.” A few participants in the group, however, cautioned that some public-interest NGOs and academics view this as a diversion of attention by the food industry from the products they manufacture and market to physical activity solutions, leading to stakeholder mistrust in the industry’s motives unless complementary activities (e.g., product reformulation, pledges and commitments to improve marketing practices) are also undertaken.
While the group did not explicitly pull from the draft assessment tool any metrics of acceptability, much of the discussion was centered on risk mitigation, with pro–healthy weight food technologies and the promotion of physical activity considered less threatening than other goals. The discussion of physical activity as a target led to some dialogue about whether there were any partners that would not be welcome at the table because of the risk of public mistrust. For example, would such a partnership exclude sugar-sweetened beverage companies? Some participants in the group expressed concern that excluding potential partners would actually increase the risk of mistrust. Finegood said that one of her take-home lessons from that particular breakout discussion was the notion of “safety in numbers,” that is, the more partners at the table the more likely is the partnership to be acceptable to the public.
Food Labeling and Messaging
The food labeling and messaging breakout group spent a great deal of time searching for common ground, that is, an area where all sectors could contribute and would benefit. One participant said, “We spent more than half our time just trying to get to what we were going to address.” The conversation progressed only to the point of identifying a common goal to develop a process for the qualification of biomarkers that can be useful in promoting healthy foods (e.g., biomarkers that clinicians could use as