Keystone Forum Report on Away-From-Home Foods - Questions and Answers

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Opportunities for Preventing Weight Gain and Obesity Report

Q: What are "away-from-home" foods? 

A: The Keystone Forum defined away-from-home foods as foods prepared and purchased away from home (including take-away foods). Such foods include full meals and individual menu items, as well as single ready-to-eat items from restaurants, prepared-food counters at grocery stores, convenience stores, and a variety of institutional foodservice settings.

Q: What was the Keystone Forum on Away-From-Home Foods?

A: The March 2005 "Calories Count" report by FDA's Obesity Working Group (OWG) noted the growing proportion of American meals consumed outside the home. In recognition of this fact, FDA saw the need to enlist the assistance and support of restaurants in addressing the overweight/obesity problem in the United States. In summer 2004, FDA contracted with the Keystone Center, a nationally-recognized, non-profit organization that specializes in bringing together diverse participants to develop consensus on pressing public policy issues, to convene a Forum on Away-from-Home Foods. Forum participants included representatives from industry, civic-sector organizations, government, and academia. The Forum met three times between April and December 2005 to consider what can be done, given what is currently known, to support consumers' ability to manage their energy intake, with respect to preventing undue weight gain and obesity, within the scope of away-from-home foods. The forum produced a final report: "The Keystone Forum on Away-From-Home Foods: Opportunities for Preventing Weight Gain and Obesity" and delivered it to FDA on June 1, 2006.

Q: Why did FDA want the Keystone forum to focus on away-from-home foods?

A: In FDA's Calories Count report, issued in March 2004, the Agency noted that the problem of overweight and obesity has no single cause and is the result of multiple factors acting together over time. Nevertheless, increases in the percentage of food consumed outside the home and the growing percent of calories consumed in away-from-home foods, combined with the general lack of easily accessible nutrition information for these foods were reasons for evaluating means to reduce their impact on obesity. FDA is aware that away-from-home food is only one of many areas that need attention if America's overweight and obesity problem is to be addressed.

Q: If the recommendations in the report are implemented, what effect will they have on the problem of overweight and obesity in the U.S.?

A: FDA hopes that implementation of the report's recommendations will help to reduce overweight and obesity. While there is no single cause of overweight/obesity and therefore no single solution to the problem, FDA believes that if the report's recommendations are implemented, consumers could have a greater variety of healthful food choices available to them and become better informed so that they can make more knowledgeable choices and better manage their weight.


Q: Is there anything else consumers can do to keep themselves healthy and control their weight?

A: FDA recognizes that everyone, including consumers, has a responsibility to address the problem of overweight and obesity. FDA continues to encourage consumers to request and use nutrition information on away-from-home foods, to use the Nutrition Facts panel on other foods, and to manage nutrient intake and energy balance.

The recommendations in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans provide information on diet and related lifestyle efforts that can help consumers stay healthy and reduce their risk of overweight and obesity (See Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005).

Q: Why didn't the Forum consider school lunches as part of away-from-home foods?

A: The intent was to focus on away-from-home foods available for purchase and consumption by consumers of all ages. While school lunches are away-from-home foods they are not available to the broad population. Regulation of the school lunch program is under the purview of USDA.

See also Questions and Answers - The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Obesity Working Group Report March 12, 2004

Page Last Updated: 06/11/2015
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