Wal-Mart to Offer Healthier Food Choices

Michelle Obama
First lady Michelle Obama takes part in Wal-Mart's announcement of a comprehensive effort to provide healthier and more affordable food choices to their customers, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011, in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
ATLANTA - First Lady Michelle Obama got a new partner Thursday in her campaign against childhood obesity: Wal-Mart, the nation's largest grocer.

CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports it's new muscle in America's nutrition battle, a good eating alliance between Wal-Mart and the White House.

"I am thrilled about Wal-Mart's new nutrition charter," said first lady Michelle Obama.

First Lady, Wal-Mart Roll out Healthy Food Push

In that charter, Wal-Mart promises revised recipes with good nutrition in mind, from bread to bacon to processed cheese.

As America's largest grocer, Wal-Mart's committing to make and sell healthier choices, starting with its "Great Value" brand, and then pressuring brand name food suppliers to do the same.

Among Wal-Mart's changes over the next five years:

• Eliminate trans fats.

• Cut sodium by 25 percent, and sugar by 10 percent.

But still keeping prices low is critical to Linna Okakpu, shopping near Atlanta for her family of 10.

"If you had to go for healthy or cheap, which would you go for?" asked Strassmann.

"Right now, cheap," said Okakpu.

Wal-Mart promises to change to make healthy food less expensive. It's needed change. Surveys show two thirds of Americans are overweight. With Wal-Mart now selling one quarter of America's groceries, a new study holds the company partially responsible because it sells so many unhealthy choices so cheaply.

"We actually found that 10 percent of the rise in obesity could actually be tied directly to Wal-Mart supercenters taking over the grocery market," said Charles Courtemanche from UNC-Greensboro.

warn weaning consumers from all that fat, salt and sugar will take time.

"The taste buds will change and it will be a gradual thing," said Emory University dietician Meagan Mouhammadione. "If they take it out all at once, people will revolt against it."

Case in point: last night's White House State Dinner, a feast that included rib-eye, double-stuffed potatoes, creamed spinach and apple pie a la mode.

That's 2400 total calories, more than a day's recommended total for most adults. It's proof that for many Americans, old food habits die hard.

  • Mark Strassmann
    Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.