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

Progress is being made in the fight against obesity

A policy brief released earlier this year from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports that the obesity epidemic has slowed or halted altogether in several countries. Though the progression of the epidemic has decelerated, the overall rate of obesity remains high among both children and adults. Continue reading

Tool assists parents in discussing weight, health

Across America, one out of every three children are overweight or obese, but parents struggle with what to say in response to questions about weight.

The Strategies To Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance and Alliance for a Healthier Generation recently released Weigh In: Talking to Your Children About Weight and Health, a research-based online guide that helps prepare parents for tough conversations about weight and health with their kids. Continue reading

Physical activity guidelines report now available for public comment

The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion along with the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, & Nutrition are set to release a report on strategies to increase physical activity among youth next year. Continue reading

Journal article outlines future directions of obesity research

A viewpoint piece in the Sept. 19, 2012 Journal of the American Medical Association (Volume 308, Number 11) recommends next steps for obesity research in dealing with the obesity epidemic. Authored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Director Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., and National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D, the introduction from “The Next Generation of Obesity Research: No Time To Waste,” appears below.  Continue reading

Perspective paper: ‘Candy at the Cash Register — A Risk Factor for Obesity and Chronic Disease’

Oct. 11, 2012, The New England Journal of Medicine

By Deborah A. Cohen, M.D., M.P.H., and Susan H. Babey, Ph.D.

A basic misconception has stymied our response to the obesity epidemic: the belief that food-related decisions are consciously and deliberately made. Our reluctance to interfere with or regulate the food environment is a direct consequence of the belief that people’s food choices reflect their true desires. Continue reading

Strategies for population-level obesity prevention for children

For those who may be interested in current obesity best practices for children, the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a review providing a summary of population-level intervention strategies for preventing and controlling childhood obesity. Continue reading

Minnesota hospital group releases infographic, report

July 16, 2012, Kids’ Health Blog

The Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota developed an infographic titled “The Weight of Childhood Obesity.” The graphic cites statistics and preventive measures from multiple sources, including the Minnesota Department of Education, Health, Human Services and Public Safety, various journals, and the Institute of Medicine. Continue reading

HIA: Students more likely to buy healthier lunches if there are nutritional standards for snacks, drinks

June 26, 2012, Kids’ Safe & Healthful Foods Project News Release

Updating national nutrition standards for snack foods and beverages sold in schools could help students maintain a healthy weight and increase food service revenue, according to a health impact assessment (HIA) released today by the Kids’ Safe & Healthful Foods Project and the Health Impact Project.

The findings come as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prepares to issue policies requiring that food and beverages sold outside of federal school meal programs meet minimum nutrition standards. Continue reading

New research suggests that neighborhood environment impacts child and parent obesity rates

Two new companion studies from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggest that living in a healthy environment can have a positive impact on you and your child’s waistline. The first of these studies describes the development of innovative GIS-based constructs for physical activity and nutrition environments. A follow-up study validates these measures by finding that adults and children who live in neighborhoods favorable to healthy eating and active living are less likely to be obese than those who live in less healthy neighborhood environments. Continue reading