New USDA report explores healthy food incentives for SNAP users

A new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report, “Approaches for Promoting Healthy Food Purchases by SNAP Participants,” examines healthy eating incentives for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) users.

Allison Karpyn, Ph.D., Associate Director of the Center for Research and Education and Social Policy at the University of Delaware co-authored the report and was interviewed on WBEZ’s Afternoon Shift program. Listen to The Food Trust’s Dr. Karpyn below.

The project and report was guided by a research question: How can nutrition labeling systems be used to direct, encourage, or incentivize healthier food choices by SNAP participants in retail food settings?

As such, the research project had three main objectives:

1. To develop a plan for how FOP and shelf-labeling systems could be applied to identify healthy choices across all food categories (packaged, bulk, frozen, fresh) and could be used as a basis for incentivizing healthy choices for SNAP participants.

2. To develop theory-based approaches that leverage front of package (FOP) and shelf-labeling systems to promote healthier food purchases by SNAP participants in a manner that is consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

3. To identify two approaches that warranted further exploration, describing a step-wise study design for implementing and testing the impact of each approach through a future pilot study.

Check out the full USDA report.

Learn more about the NCCOR Healthy Food Incentives project.

 

School vending machines ditch Oreos, Fritos for ‘smart snacks’

July 1, 2014, Chicago Tribune

By Jessica Wohl

The school vending machine is no longer an easy place to satisfy a snack craving.

Under new national nutritional guidelines that kick in July 1, schools that are part of the National School Lunch Program can no longer sell treats such as Oreos and Fritos. The “Smart Snacks in School” program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) covers foods and drinks sold in vending machines, on cafeteria à la carte menus and for club fundraisers during school hours.

For years, school systems have been pushing for healthier foods on their breakfast and lunch menus. Now, schools must also make sure products in their vending machines meet new standards.

Companies that fill school vending machines have been busy preparing to ensure they have the right products. The USDA standards include limits on calories, sodium, and sugar. Grain items must have 50 percent or more whole grains by weight, or list whole grains as their first ingredient. Continue reading

Smoking, extra weight in pregnancy tied to obesity throughout childhood

June 23, 2014, Reuters

By Shereen Lehman

Women who smoke during pregnancy and are overweight early in pregnancy are more likely to have children who become obese as toddlers and stay obese through their teenage years, according to a new study.

Obesity rates have more than doubled among U.S. children and quadrupled among U.S. adolescents in the past three decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in every three young people is obese.

The authors of the new study looked at how children’s body mass index (BMI), a measure of weight in relation to height, changed over time, from ages 1 to 18. They found being consistently obese was associated with certain exposures in the womb, and with having asthma and other problems in adolescence.

Past studies looking at risk factors for obesity and the consequences of being obese have focused on weight at one point in time, Dr. Wilfried Karmaus said. Continue reading

TEDMED hosting special live discussion about childhood obesity

On July 22, TEDMED is hosting an online discussion about the progress and challenges of our nation’s ongoing struggle with childhood obesity. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the American Heart Association, Academy Health, the University of California-San Francisco, and the City of Philadelphia will be part of the discussion.

Presenters include:

  • Richard Besser (Moderator), Chief Health and Medical Editor for ABC News
  • Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Continue reading

You eat twice as much sugar as you should

June 27, 2014, TIME

By Abby Abrams

Bad news for your sweet tooth: People’s average consumption of sugar should be cut in half, a British government advisory group has recommended.

A draft report by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition said that in order to curb obesity, people should reduce their sugar intake so that it only accounts for 5 percent of their daily energy intake, down from the current recommended level of 10 percent. The group also said people should minimize consumption of sugar sweetened beverages because of their association with type 2 diabetes, as well as increase their fiber intake.

“There is strong evidence in the report to show that if people were to have less free sugars and more fiber in their diet they would lower their risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and bowel cancer,” said Committee chair Dr. Ann Prentice. Continue reading

2.1 billion people worldwide are overweight or obese

May 29, 2104, Los Angeles Times

By Karen Kaplan

The world isn’t getting smaller, it’s getting bigger, according to a comprehensive report published May 29 in The Lancet.

Whether you’re looking at men or women, children or adults, citizens of rich countries or poor ones, people were much more likely to be overweight or obese in 2013 than they were in 1980, the study found.

In 1980 — the year Pac-Man was unleashed on the world and John Lennon was assassinated — there were 857 million people on the planet who were either overweight or obese. Thirty-three years later, the comparable figure was 2.1 billion.

It is not just that the global population grew (and thus the number of people with too many pounds on their frames). The proportion of men who were overweight or obese rose from 28.8 percent in 1980 to 36.9 percent in 2013, while the proportion of women in that category increased from 29.8 percent to 38 percent during the same period, the report said. Continue reading

Young male smokers may raise obesity risk in their future sons

April 2, 2014, Reuters

By Kate Keland

Men who start smoking before the age of 11 risk having sons who are overweight, British researchers have found, adding to evidence that lifestyle factors even in childhood can affect the health of future offspring.

The scientists said the findings, part of ongoing work in a larger “Children of the ’90s” study, could indicate that exposure to tobacco smoke before the start of puberty in men may lead to metabolic changes in the next generation.

“This discovery of transgenerational effects has big implications for research into the current rise in obesity and the evaluation of preventative measures,” said Marcus Pembrey, a professor of genetics at University College London, who led the study and presented its findings at a briefing on April 2. Continue reading

The childhood obesity window is closing: Genetic influence of height and weight grows as we get older

April 23, 2014, Medical Daily

By Matthew Mientka

A new study on twins shows the importance of early intervention as America’s childhood obesity rate continues to rise after doubling during the past 30 years, with more than one-third of children overweight and obese.

By comparing data collected on more than 2,500 pairs of twins with genomic analysis, researchers from King’s College London and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), got a pretty good look at the interplay between nature and nurture. They found the influence of genetics on individual differences in body mass index (BMI) rose from 43 percent at age 4 to 82 percent by age 10, suggesting parents and clinicians might intervene with improved diet and lifestyle choices at earlier ages — when the time is ripe. Continue reading

Supermarket access is key ingredient in obesity programs

May 3, 2014, Medical Xpress

Living close to a supermarket appears to be a key factor in the success of interventions to help obese children eat better and improve their weight, according to a study presented May 3 at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Urban neighborhoods and rural towns without access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food are known as food deserts. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, food deserts sometimes have only fast-food restaurants and convenience stores.

Few studies have looked at whether living farther from a large supermarket affects the success of interventions to improve eating habits and reduce weight. Continue reading

New resources from Bridging the Gap and CDC highlight local school wellness policies

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Bridging the Gap program, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recently released a new set of resources highlighting opportunities to support wellness policies through evidence-based strategies. These briefs provide an assessment of policies across school districts nationwide, related to seven wellness policy components. They also highlight areas of opportunity for state agencies, school districts, and schools to strengthen wellness policy components. See all seven topic area briefs plus a methods document below. Continue reading