First lady Michelle Obama to embark on national tour celebrating third anniversary of Let’s Move!

Yesterday, Feb. 27, first lady Michelle Obama kicked off a two-day nation-wide tour celebrating the third anniversary of Let’s Move!, her initiative to ensure that all our children grow up healthy and reach their full potential. The tour will showcase progress and announce new ways the country is coming together around the health of our children. Mrs. Obama also traveled to New York City this week to talk about the third anniversary of Let’s Move! on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Good Morning America, and The Dr. Oz Show. Continue reading

How ‘crunch time’ between school and sleep shapes kids’ health

How ‘crunch time’ between school and sleep shapes kids’ health
Feb. 25, 2013, NPR [Shots Blog]

It’s an important question for American families and the nation as a whole: Why do so many kids weigh too much?

There are recent hints the epidemic may be abating slightly. Still, one in every three American kids is overweight or obese.

To understand why, NPR conducted a poll with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. It focuses on what happens in American households during the hours between school and bedtime.

This is crunch time for most families — when crucial everyday decisions get made about food and exercise.

Our poll used a unique design to get at what is actually happening in the life of a “target child” in each household. We supplemented their responses with more than 800 that came in when we asked parents, through NPR’s Facebook page, to describe their own “crunch times.” Continue reading

Helping kids make healthier food choices

Feb. 25, 2013, The Boston Globe

By Lara Salahi

Want a way to get kids to choose healthier food? Make it look good and easy to grab, say researchers at Cornell University. Their study, published Feb. 22 in the Journal of Pediatrics, suggests that kids are more likely to choose healthy food if the presentation is appealing and it is within reach.

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture required schools to substitute unhealthy foods with nutritious options, but that hasn’t guaranteed that students eat healthier. “We believe that when children take foods of their own volition, they’re more likely to eat them,” said Andrew Hanks, a research fellow at Cornell University and lead author of the study. Continue reading

Gym class isn’t just fun and games anymore

Feb. 18, 2013, The New York Times

By Montoko Rich

On a recent afternoon, the third-graders in Sharon Patelsky’s class reviewed words like “acronym,” “clockwise,” and “descending,” as well as math concepts like greater than, less than, and place values.

During gym class.

Ms. Patelsky, the physical education teacher at Everglades Elementary School here, instructed the students to count by fours as they touched their elbows to their knees during a warm-up. They added up dots on pairs of dice before sprinting to round mats imprinted with mathematical symbols. And while in push-up position, they balanced on one arm and used the other (“Alternate!” Ms. Patelsky urged. “That’s one of your vocabulary words”) to stack oversize Lego blocks in columns labeled “ones,” “tens,” and “hundreds.” Continue reading

Food and beverage marketing to children and adolescents: Limited progress by 2012, recommendations for the future

For decades, American children and adolescents have been surrounded by advertising and marketing for unhealthy foods and beverages. While the food and beverage industry, as well as local and national levels of government, have started to recognize the role that food and beverage marketing plays in driving the childhood obesity epidemic, American youths are still exposed to a disproportionate amount of marketing for unhealthy products across a variety of media.

This research review from Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, summarizes the academic and industry literature on trends in food marketing to children and adolescents, as well as policy initiatives undertaken to address the contribution of marketing practices to the childhood obesity epidemic, from March 2011 to May 2012. Policy implications and future research needs are also highlighted. Continue reading

USDA announces new funding opportunity for childhood obesity prevention research

On Feb. 8, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it would be funding up to $5 million in new grants for childhood obesity prevention research.

The grants are funded through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which funds competitive grants for fundamental and applied research, education, and extension to address food and agricultural sciences. These new awards fall under the AFRI Childhood Obesity Prevention Area: a program designed to achieve the long-term outcomes of reducing the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents aged 2-19. Continue reading

Cancer Research Training Award fellowship opportunity at the National Cancer Institute

The National Cancer Institute (NCI), a major research component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Health and Human Services, is inviting applications from qualified candidates for a Cancer Research Training Award (CRTA) with an emphasis on health behaviors research.

The CRTA appointment is a one- or two-year position with the Health Behaviors Research Branch (HBRB), Behavioral Research Program (BRP), Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) of NCI.

The full-time position based in Rockville, Md., will allow the applicant to interact with a large number of scientists representing the disciplines of nutrition, behavioral sciences, obesity prevention, physical activity, skin cancer prevention, gene-environment interactions, behavioral genetics, and other disciplines within public health, at NCI, NIH, and at institutions around the country.

CRTA provides an outstanding opportunity for an individual with a strong interest in health behaviors and cancer control to gain experience working with an extramural behavioral scientist at NCI.

Please click here for more information about the CRTA fellowship.

IOM to host a public workshop on national nutrition education curriculum standards

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) Planning Committee for National Nutrition Education Curriculum Standards will host a two-day public workshop on March 11-12, 2013. The workshop will feature invited experts presentations and panel discussions that will:

  • Explore the merits and potential uses of a set of national nutrition education curriculum standards and learning objectives for elementary and secondary school children
  • Identify current and promising practices
  • Consider the most important attributes of national  standards
  • Suggest approaches to build acceptance and use among educators

This workshop is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service. Registration is required and seating will be limited.

View the workshop agenda.

Register for the workshop.

For more information visit the workshop’s webpage on the IOM site.

Study: Communities must be ready for obesity advocacy to be successful

Feb. 02, 2013, The Nation's Health

By Kim Krisberg

Youth advocates can play a role in addressing childhood obesity, but communities must first be ready to embrace the issue, a recent study finds.

Using a community readiness assessment tool developed by Colorado State University, researchers gauged the potential for youth advocacy to shift norms in a south Omaha, Neb., Hispanic community. The research, published in December in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, found that the community was at a low stage of readiness for change. But using the tool provided a framework for building a tailored youth-led obesity prevention movement, according to the study. Continue reading

Preschool obesity and food insecurity link

Jan. 31, 2013, UPI.com

U.S. children whose early years were spent in food insecurity and who have obese mothers are more likely to be obese in preschool, researchers say.

Study leader Elizabeth Metallinos-Katsaras of the Department of Nutrition at the Simmons College School of Nursing and Health Sciences in Boston said the research is based on analysis of more than 28,300 low-income children participating in a publicly funded health and nutrition program in Massachusetts, from 2001 to 2006. Continue reading