Obesity among Americans has become a crisis. Nearly two-thirds of adults and one-third of children are overweight. Many costly and burdensome chronic diseases are linked to excess weight and poor nutrition, including diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. Rather than pull together as the epidemic grew, public health and food industry leaders regarded each other with animosity and distrust. Public health advocates faulted the food industry for marketing and selling unhealthy products; the food industry countered that they had continued to receive harsh criticism despite having invested in product reformulation, menu changes, and other improvements.
CBI and its partner, the Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, resolved to change the dynamic by pressing for cross-sector collaboration. With a mission to harness market forces and shape consumer demand for healthier eating, the Project on Nutrition and Wellness (PNW) was born. CBI facilitated the first confidential two-day meeting in July 2012, uniting stakeholders who were often at odds in the press, public meetings, and Congressional hearings. Building on this momentum, CBI and Convergence convened a larger group six times across the next eighteen months. The facilitation team also led work groups to advance particular initiatives and brokered new bilateral relationships. The initial focus was on exchanging ideas in an environment that fostered trust. This approach enabled PNW stakeholders to come together across sectors to learn from one another, examine each other’s differences in a civil setting free of defensiveness, and explore possible areas of common ground and collaboration.
During the project, PNW conducted more than 300 in-depth one-on-one interviews with industry leaders and subject matter experts. PNW also commissioned an original consumer segmentation analysis of food and wellness attitudes and behavior. In addition, PNW conceived numerous research and pilot programs, including:
Over three years, the Project on Nutrition and Wellness built an alliance of more than 50 thought leaders from across sectors who are now actively working to create a major, unified shift in demand for healthier foods. Read the full report for this project.
Convergence Center for Policy Resolution is a 501c3 non-profit organization focused on solving social challenges through collaboration. To learn more, visit www.convergencepolicy.org.