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Michelle Obama launches a food and drink company to promote healthy options for kids

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Former first lady Michelle Obama has co-founded the food and drink company PLEZi, designed to provide healthy options for kids, she announced Wednesday.

Obama said he’d be working behind the scenes to guide PLEZi’s mission, which serves as an extension of the Let’s Move! campaign to fight childhood obesity that she launched as first lady.

“I’ve learned that on this issue, if you want to change the game, you can’t just work from the outside. You’ve got to get inside — you’ve got to find ways to change the food and beverage industry himself,” Obama said during the company announcement at The Wall Street Journal Future of Everything Festival. “I’m proud to announce the national launch of a company designed not only to provide better products, but to jumpstart a race to the top that will transform the entire food industry.”

PLEZi’s first product is a drink for kids ages 6-12 with 75% less sugar than average leading fruit juices, Obama wrote on the company site. The former first lady noted that water and milk are still the best drink options for kids 5 and under.

“But once kids become school-aged, we all know drinking only water and milk isn’t a reality,” she wrote. “That’s why we created PLEZi as your worry-free alternative — it’s got less sugar, less sweetness, and more nutrients like fiber and potassium than you’ll find in many drinks out there.”

The average daily intake of added sugars for Americans aged 2-19 years old was 17 teaspoons from 2017-2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A 2021 survey found more than half of children in most states drank a sugar-sweetened beverage at least once during the week preceding the survey.

“Limiting or reducing foods and beverages higher in added sugars, including sugar-sweetened beverages, is important because added sugars are associated with increased risk of obesity, dental caries, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease,” the CDC said in a February report.

PLEZi drinks are currently available in four flavors at Target and Spout stores nationwide. They’re also available online at Walmart. The company plans to expand into additional drinks and snacks in the future.

As a public benefit company, PLEZi Nutrition said it would invest 10% of profits into the movement to promote kids’ health. Obama also announced the company is donating $1 million to FoodCorps, a nonprofit working on children’s nutrition.