Former first lady Michelle Obama announced this week the launch of her new health company PLEZi Nutrition, an initiative that is helping to make and sell healthier food and drink options for children in need.
The 59-year-old Democrat took to Instagram Wednesday with a vow to provide products that are filled with low-sugar and nutrient-dense ingredients like fiber and potassium.
“I’ve learned that if you want to change the game on this issue, you can do a lot from the outside. But to achieve the kind of long-term change our kids deserve, you’ve also got to change the food and beverage industry itself,” Mrs. Obama penned. “You’ve got to get inside. That’s exactly what I’m doing.”
Mrs. Obama, who is the co-founder and strategic partner behind PLEZi Nutrition, will work behind the scenes on its educational and philanthropic efforts.
On Wednesday, the Chicago native shared a picture of the company’s first product called PLEZi, a fruit drink for kids ages 6 to 12. The healthy beverages will be available in an assortment of flavors ranging from “Tropical Punch” to “Blueberry Blast.”
“We chose to start with a kids’ drink because, on average, kids are consuming 53 pounds of added sugar per year,” the mother of two wrote, noting how sugar-sweetened beverages are the leading cause of added sugar in children drinks on the market.
“Our goal isn’t just to provide healthy drinks and snacks for kids, but to jumpstart a race to the top that will transform the entire food industry,” the former first lady added. “We want to be a partner that parents can count on, lead with our values, and drive the kind of change I’ve always hoped to see.”
In office, Mrs. Obama spearheaded an initiative called “Let’s Move.”
Mrs. Obama’s PLEZi initiative is an extension of her work to help improve child nutrition, a goal she was focused on tackling while in the White House.
During her tenure, the lawyer and health advocate launched an initiative called “Let’s Move” to help improve the health of children through physical activity and healthy food options. Traveling across the U.S., the former White House official worked tirelessly to bring better federal nutrition standards to schools. She worked with food vendors and restaurants to provide tasty options that contained lower salt, calories, sugar, and trans fats in cafeteria meals.
According to NBC News, PLEZi Nutrition will operate as a public benefit corporation, “meaning that the for-profit company was created specifically for the public’s benefit and will balance its profit needs with its mission to help improve child nutrition,” the outlet noted.
During a keynote conference sponsored by the Wall Street Journal, the health guru also announced that her new company would be donating $1 million to the non-profit FoodCorps to help 50 million students in the U.S. receive education about nutrition and free school meals by 2030. Obama said PLEZi Nutrition will donate 10% of its profits to help aid in the fight for better nutrition.
Nutrition standards for school meals soared when the former first lady was in office.
A study published by JAMA in 2020 found Mrs. Obama’s rigorous efforts in the nutrition field helped to improve overall nutritional quality in schools across the United States.
Under the forever first lady’s Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, researchers found that the Healthy Eating Index-2010 scores jumped to 11.9 for low-income students enrolled in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Prior to the program’s launch, the score for low-income non-participants was around -0.7.
For low to middle-income NSLP participants, the score soared to 14.3 vs. 2.0 for low to middle-income no=nparticipants. The same pattern was present for middle to high-income participants and non-participants, at 12.8 and 4.7 respectively.
“The evidence suggests that the policy resulted in the improved nutritional quality of lunches consumed by students who participate in the National School Lunch Program,” senior study author Jessica Jones-Smith said in a statement.
“The reach of the program is tremendous. Pre-pandemic it served over 30 million children per day, so improving the nutritional quality of foods served in this program could positively impact millions of children, if children actually eat the foods served.
Jones-Smith added, “Additionally, this policy holds the potential to more positively impact lower-income children, so our goal was to look specifically at the impacts by students’ income.”
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