SEC Symposium focuses on obesity prevention

According to recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been a decline in childhood obesity rates across some communities in the United States. However, much work remains to reduce the estimated two-thirds of adults and 33 percent of kids and teens who are overweight or obese. The 2014 Southeastern Conference (SEC) Symposium hopes to be part of the solution to this public health challenge by identifying ways to reduce obesity in America through prevention. Continue reading

United States expands healthy food assistance to women, infants, and children

Feb. 28, 2014, Reuters

Some 9 million poor women and young children who receive federal food assistance under the U.S. government’s [Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)] program will have greater access to fruits, vegetables, and whole grains under an overhaul of the program, which was unveiled on Feb. 28.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hailed the revamping of WIC as the first comprehensive revisions to the program’s food voucher allowances since 1980.

The list of foods that recipients could pay for with WIC vouchers was long limited to such basics as milk, infant formula, cheese, eggs, cereals, bread, and tuna fish. Continue reading

Study highlights long-term health effects of childhood obesity later in life

Feb. 12, 2013, http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-02-highlights-long-term-effects-childhood-obesity.html

Childhood obesity rates have nearly tripled in the previous 30 years and researchers are asking the important question of how this epidemic will impact the future health of these obese children and public health in general. A University of Colorado Cancer Center article recently published in the journal Gerontology shows that even in cases in which obese children later lose weight, the health effects of childhood obesity may be long-lasting and profound. Continue reading

United States proposes major update to food labels in bid to combat obesity

Feb. 27, 2014, Reuters

By Tom Clarke

Packaged foods sold in the United States would display calorie counts more prominently and include the amount of added sugar under a proposal to significantly update nutritional labels for the first time in 20 years as health officials seek to reduce obesity and combat related diseases such as diabetes.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Feb. 27 that its proposal would also ensure that the amount of calories listed per serving reflects the portions that people typically eat. That change may result in per serving calorie counts doubling for some foods such as ice cream.

First lady Michelle Obama, who has used her White House position to launch the Let’s Move! campaign to fight childhood obesity, announced the proposal for the FDA. Continue reading

SGA to host webinar on new report about sprawl and its impact on development in the United States

In 2001, Smart Growth America (SGA) released the landmark study Measuring Sprawl and its Impact. Next week, SGA is releasing the next edition of this flagship report with new information about the state of development in the United States.

To mark the launch of this new report, Measuring Sprawl 2014, SGA and the Metropolitan Research Center are hosting a webinar detailing the report’s findings and discussing growth strategies with communities highlighted in the new analysis. The webinar will take place on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, at 11:00 am EDT. This event is free. Continue reading

USDA awards grants to develop obesity prevention programs

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will make three grants totaling $5 million to universities to develop childhood obesity prevention programs. Vilsack made the announcement during the keynote address before the 2014 National PTA Legislative Conference in Arlington, VA.

“USDA is at the forefront of the Obama administration’s efforts to combat childhood obesity, which poses a threat to the health and future productivity of our entire nation,” said Vilsack. “These grants fund critical research that will help USDA and our partners implement effective strategies to support America’s next generation so they can have a healthy childhood and develop healthy habits for life.” Continue reading

Access to healthy food improves health, brings economic benefits

Feb. 20, 2014, Huffington Post

Access to healthy food can bring triple bottom-line benefits to communities — better health, new jobs, and a revitalized economy. But nearly 30 million Americans still live in low-income areas with limited access to supermarkets. The problem is particularly acute in low-income communities of color.

The good news is Congress took steps to expand access to healthy food last week, including a $125 million authorization for the national Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) in the nearly $1 trillion farm bill. To improve access, the program invests in the development and expansion of food retail businesses and food hubs that in return can bring much-needed jobs and spur economic revitalization in low-income neighborhoods.

Bringing healthy food retail into neighborhoods that have historically lacked access is a key strategy within a multifaceted approach to improve the food environment and advance community well-being. PolicyLink, The Food Trust, and The Reinvestment Fund have been working with local, state, and national healthy food advocates for years to expand fresh food access in underserved areas throughout the United States. Continue reading

Diabetes rates rise with food prices, as healthy options get too expensive

Feb. 16, 2014, Medical Daily

By Matthew Mientka

A new study suggests blood sugar levels among people with diabetes may rise with food prices, as consumers are priced out of the healthy foods market.

Researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) measured blood sugar levels in 2,400 adults with type 2 diabetes, which they compared to average grocery store prices during the previous three months in 35 U.S. markets. They found blood sugar levels rose as the costs of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and low-fat yogurt rose.

“We found evidence supporting our hypothesis that people in different income groups respond differently to changes in the price of several food groups — namely, lean protein, oils and nuts, processed foods, low-fat dairy, and packaged refined grains,” study author Ilya Rahkovsky wrote this month in the Journal of American Public Health. Continue reading

NIH presentation about community-academic partnerships to address obesity among middle school students

On Thursday, March 20, Dr. Laura Bogart will be discussing the development and results of Students for Nutrition and eXercise (SNaX), a five-week middle school-based obesity prevention intervention that combines school-wide food environmental changes, multimedia, encouragement to eat healthy school cafeteria foods, and peer-led education.

She will describe the formation and maintenance of the partnership with the participating school district, the Los Angeles Unified School District, as well as relevant community stakeholders; review the results of the randomized controlled trial; and discuss the policy impact of the research and program dissemination activities. Dr. Bogart is associate professor of pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, and research director of the Division of General Pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital. Continue reading

Americans consume too much added sugars, study says, and it’s killing us

Feb. 3, 2014, Los Angeles Times

By Karen Kaplan

Americans consume too much sugar, and our collective sweet tooth is killing us.

So says a study published Feb. 3 by the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. It finds that 71.4 percent of U.S. adults get more than the recommended 10 percent of their daily calories from added sugars in foods and drinks — and that higher levels of sugar consumption are correlated with higher risk of death due to cardiovascular disease (CVD).

“Too much sugar does not just make us fat; it can also make us sick,” Laura A. Schmidt, a professor of health policy at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, wrote in a commentary that accompanies the study. Continue reading