February 2010






Collaboration Accelerating Progress on Childhood Obesity

NCCOR, February 2010

February marks the one-year anniversary of the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR), a public-private collaboration to accelerate progress on reversing the epidemic of overweight and obesity among U.S. youth.

NCCOR was launched in February 2009 at the start of the Obama administration, and brings together three of the nation’s leading research funders – the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The Collaborative exemplifies the Administration’s vision – federal and non-profit leaders on health, physical activity, and foods/nutrition working together for the good of the American people.

It also places special emphasis on the populations and communities in which obesity rates are the highest: African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and children living in low-income communities.

One year prior to launching, CDC, NIH and RWJF discussed their respective research, practice, and funding priorities in an effort to identify common goals and determine how each organization could benefit and complement the other. The planning committee gained support for forming a collaborative from various CDC divisions, NIH centers, and RWJF by stressing that NCCOR would improve the science behind obesity prevention, as well as information sharing.

Grounded by a group of passionate, committed leaders in the field, NCCOR was formed to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and application of childhood obesity research through enhanced coordination and collaboration.

“It’s been stunning seeing firsthand the impact that NCCOR members can have by jointly pursuing goals to make progress more quickly,” said Todd Phillips, the director of NCCOR’s coordinating center.

Indeed, NCCOR is a unique example of how federal agencies are working with each other and with private funders to bring synergy and innovation to efforts to address childhood obesity. The Collaborative will grow in 2010 with the planned addition of the United States Department of Agriculture, a government leader on foods, nutrition, and obesity prevention.

Continuously evolving and building on each other’s strengths, the CDC, NIH, and RWJF are advancing the field through complementary and joint projects begun in the past year. Projects aim to evaluate new and existing prevention approaches, rapidly assess promising policy changes, and accelerate the application of interventions that work.

Priority Areas

NCCOR focuses its efforts on projects to meet four areas of need related to strengthening nation’s research tools and infrastructure, discovering “what works,” and communicating and spreading effective interventions more rapidly. Within each area, NCCOR members are committed to a variety of projects. A few examples include:

  • Establishing a web-based registry of valid and reliable measures to assess independent, dependent, and key moderating variables in childhood obesity prevention research.
  • Coordinating computational and statistical modeling efforts to elucidate the complexity of the childhood obesity problem and to forecast the impact of public health policies and interventions on childhood obesity on a population-wide level and among specific subpopulations.
  • Supporting two program announcements by NIH that call for policy-relevant research.
  • Co-sponsoring two webinars with the RWJF Center in 2010, and jointly sponsoring six webinars with NCI addressing physical activity measures and methods.


NCCOR members have jointly funded more than $40 million in projects progressing NCCOR’s mission. NCCOR members also provide significant staff scientific expertise to develop and implement the agenda.

In addition to funding projects, the CDC, NIH, and RWJF jointly committed almost
$3 million to co-fund an NCCOR coordinating center for an initial three years. The coordinating center provides critical substantive support for NCCOR by conducting strategic planning, developing fundamental research tools (e.g., registry of measures and catalog of surveillance systems), convening members, evaluating NCCOR benchmarks, and providing core communication and administrative activities.

For more information on the Collaborative’s mission, priority areas and projects, please consult www.nccor.org.


RWJF Awards Grants to 41 Communities in Major Expansion of Childhood Obesity Program

Jan. 12, 2010, RWJF Press Release

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has awarded multiyear grants to 41 communities across the country as part of a landmark national program to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic by 2015.

The 41 sites are funded through Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities, an RWJF program that supports local efforts to improve access to affordable healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity for children and families. With nine communities named as leading sites in 2008, the program now encompasses 50 sites in more than half of the states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. And with a total commitment of $33 million over five years, it is the Foundation’s single largest investment in community-based solutions to childhood obesity.

“These sites can help move the country toward a place where good health is built right into the environment,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Foundation.

“All children, no matter where they live, should be able to jump on a bike and ride safely in their neighborhood or to school. They should be able to play in a well-maintained and crime-free park. And they and their families should be able to easily find—and afford—fresh, healthy foods.”

More than 23 million children and adolescents in the United States—nearly a third of youth ages 2 to 19—are now overweight or obese. Even among ages 2 to 5, the rate of overweight and obesity is 24 percent. Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities is a cornerstone of RWJF’s $500 million commitment to reverse the epidemic.

The program will work in communities as diverse as Houghton County in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Desoto, Marshall and Tate counties in the Mississippi Delta. Some are big cities like Houston and Philadelphia, others small, isolated locations like Cuba, N.M. But all of the targeted neighborhoods have a significant obesity problem exacerbated by such issues as high unemployment and poverty, crime, dangerous traffic, too few grocery stores and aging, broken or insufficient infrastructure.

The new sites and the program as a whole will target the barriers that make it difficult for children to get daily physical activity or eat healthy foods. They’ll then determine what new policies and environmental changes would work best to overcome those barriers and reduce the prevalence of obesity.

Project leaders in all 50 communities have recruited an impressive array of local partners, including academic and health institutions, faith-based groups and nonprofit organizations, even chambers of commerce and a bicycling association. Many also are involving urban planners, local parks departments or school districts.

“Where people live has a huge impact on their health and quality of life,” said Sarah Strunk, M.H.A., director of Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities. “The Foundation’s investment in 50 communities across the nation—and collaboration among passionate, committed leaders and advocates—means that children who are at greatest risk for obesity will find that the healthy choice becomes the easier choice.”

Each of the 41 new communities will receive a four‐year grant of up to $360,000 to craft innovative solutions aimed at helping children and families lead healthier lives. Among the varied approaches they will pursue:

  • Nash and Edgecombe Counties, North Carolina, will tackle obesity among very young children by working with preschool providers to make sure they support active play and serve nutritious foods. The project also will forge ties with medical providers to help them educate parents.
  • Portland, Oregon, will use GIS (geographic information system) mapping to identify disparities such as a lack of parks, grocery stores or safe walking paths. The project will then build such features into lower-income areas of the city.
  • Kansas City plans to expand access to healthy foods through a sustainable food program servicing the metropolitan area on both sides of the Kansas-Missouri state line.
  • Kingston, New York, aims to transform a decaying urban core of empty storefronts and a hazardous main street into a midtown with parks, trails and community gardens.

As successes are replicated, more and more communities will be transformed. “Who wouldn’t want to leave this kind of legacy for our kids?” Strunk said.

The 41 cities and regions announced today as Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities sites are:

Alabama: Jefferson County
Arkansas: Boone and Newton Counties
Arizona: Phoenix
California: Rancho Cucamonga
California: Watsonville and Pajaro Valley
Colorado: Denver
Florida: Jacksonville
Florida: Lake Worth, Greenacres and Palm Springs
Georgia: Cook County
Georgia: Milledgeville
Illinois: Kane County
Louisiana: New Orleans
Massachusetts: Fitchburg
Michigan: Flint
Michigan: Houghton County
Mississippi: Desoto, Marshall and Tate Counties
Mississippi: Jackson
Missouri: Kansas City
Nebraska: Omaha
New Mexico: Cuba
New Mexico: Grant County
New Mexico: San Felipe Pueblo
New York: Buffalo
New York: Kingston
New York: Rochester
North Carolina: Moore and Montgomery Counties
North Carolina: Nash and Edgecombe Counties
Ohio: Hamilton County
Oregon: Benton County
Oregon: Multnomah County/Portland
Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
Puerto Rico: Caguas
South Carolina: Greenville
South Carolina: Spartanburg County
Tennessee: Chattanooga
Tennessee: Knox County
Texas: El Paso
Texas: Houston
Texas: San Antonio
West Virginia: Charleston
Wisconsin: Milwaukee


Original Sources: http://www.rwjf.org/pr/product.jsp?id=53989



RWJF Center Resource Highlights Local Childhood Obesity Strategies

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity has identified 14 action steps using the 12 priority action steps identified by the Institute of Medicine and two additional school-based ones, to focus on setting policy and technical assistance priorities. These steps will drive the center’s efforts for policy changes that make the healthy choice the easy choice. This table highlights the various resources (products, tools, research briefs, and other resources) available from the center’s network of RWJF allies and external organizations. The resources are intended to help policymakers implement the targeted action steps and drive policy change.



Journal Supplement Identifies Opportunities to Address Childhood Obesity Using Agricultural Policy

This special issue of the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition identified research opportunities to develop successful interventions within agriculture, food, and health systems, as well as policies and actions for moving toward and achieving community environments that allow healthier diets and reduced obesity.

This dynamic collection of articles is the outcome of the Airlie Conference held in April 2009 that focused on the food system, food, agriculture, and agriculture policy which are central to a discussion on healthy diets and obesity prevention. More than 80 leading thinkers nationwide from the health, nutrition, obesity, and health policy domains, together with those from the sustainable agriculture, economics, and agriculture policy sectors, participated in this robust dialog.



Nutrition Environment Measures Survey Training Available Online

A training program on the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey for Stores (NEMS-S) and Restaurants (NEMS-R) for researchers, practitioners, and community advocates for research and action in their own communities can now be accessed online. The training consists of eight modules and required fieldwork. Once complete, a participant will have access to all of the NEMS-related materials. The monthly course is free.




Data: U.S. Obesity Rate High, but Not Rising

Jan. 13, 2010, Associated Press

By Lindsey Tanner

Raise a glass of diet soda: The nation’s obesity rate appears to have stalled. But the latest numbers still show that more than two-thirds of adults and almost a third of kids are overweight, with no sign of improvement.

According to government data from the years 2007-2008, the obesity rate has held steady for about five years, reflecting earlier signs it had stalled after steadily climbing. Dr. William Dietz, an obesity expert with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cautiously called the results promising. “We’re at the corner; we haven’t turned the corner,” he said.

Not only are the vast majority of adults overweight, 34 percent are obese; and 17 percent of children are obese. Even the youngest Americans are affected — 10 percent of babies and toddlers are precariously heavy.

The CDC data were contained in two reports published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“Even though this finding is certainly good news, the statistics are still staggering,” said Dr. J. Michael Gaziano, a contributing editor at the journal.

The new data are based on health surveys involving height and weight measurements of 5,700 adults and 4,000 children, surveys the CDC does every two years.

The results in adults, showing 68 percent are too heavy, have been virtually the same in the last three surveys.

In most age groups, black adults had the highest rates of obesity, followed by Mexican-Americans and whites.

Among children ages 2 to 19, 32 percent were too heavy — a rate that was mostly unchanged. But disturbingly, most obese kids were extremely obese. And the percentage of extremely obese boys ages 6 to 19 has steadily increased, to 15 percent from about 9 percent in 1999-2000.

CDC researcher and study author Cynthia Ogden said it was disappointing to see no decline, and troubling that the heaviest boys seem to be getting even heavier. The study didn’t examine the causes, but Ogden cited the usual reasons — soft drinks, video games and inactivity — as possible explanations.

“We shouldn’t be complacent. We still have a problem,” Ogden said. Gaziano, a cardiologist at Boston’s Veterans Affairs hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said getting the nation to turn the corner and reduce obesity requires changing many unhealthy behaviors, and getting restaurants, schools, food manufacturers and communities to support the fight.

That’s starting to happen, from efforts to pull soda from school vending machines to campaigns by groups like the NFL to encourage physical activity, he noted.

The epidemic is also high on the White House agenda. President Barack Obama has pushed to make obesity prevention part of health care reform. Overhaul measures pending in Congress include encouraging employer-based wellness programs and requiring large restaurant chains to list calories. And Michelle Obama has made fighting childhood obesity her top priority this coming year.

In a round-table conversation with reporters about her first year in office and upcoming goals, Mrs. Obama said the new CDC reports suggest a generation of children will be destined for increased rates of heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes “if we don’t get a handle on this issue.”

“We have a chance to change the fate of the next generation if we get on it,” she said. People like Darrell Pender are paying attention. Obesity “is constantly in the news,” said Pender, a 42-year-old New York City computer technician who decided to get serious about fighting fat after being diagnosed with diabetes three years ago.

Pender was tempted by a TV ad for obesity surgery, but chose a less drastic option — a nutrition support group that he credits with helping him make healthier food choices. So far, he’s lost 50 pounds over several months. At 350 pounds, he’s still very obese, but his diabetes is under control and he feels healthier.

Karen Congro, Pender’s nutritionist at the Brooklyn Hospital Center, said obese patients in recent years seem more willing to try lifestyle changes rather than quick fixes doomed to fail. Fifteen years ago, “I would have said this seems almost hopeless. Patients would say, ‘I had an overweight uncle who lived to 99,’” Congro said. “Now I almost never hear that.”

Associated Press writer Nancy Benac contributed to this report.


Original Source:


Plate Weighing ‘Can Curb Obesity’

Jan. 6, 2010, BBC News

A talking, computerized weighing device that tracks how quickly food is gobbled off the plate could be a solution to childhood obesity, researchers say.

The Mandometer keeps tabs during meal times and tells the user if they are wolfing down meals too fast – a habit experts have linked to weight gain.

In a trial with 106 obese children the gadget showed promising results, the British Medical Journal reports online. After 12 months of use the children weighed less and ate smaller portions. Their speed of eating was reduced by 11 percent compared with a gain of 4 percent in a comparison group.

“What tends to happen when we eat alone or while watching the TV is we eat more quickly,” said lead researcher Professor Julian Hamilton-Shield. Experts believe eating too fast can interfere with an inbuilt signaling system that tells the brain to stop eating when the stomach becomes full. But early in life, with instructions like “make sure you eat it all up”, children are taught to override these signals.

Scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm set out to design a device to pace eating, primarily to help patients with the eating disorder bulimia, who tend to eat quickly.

The Mandometer plots a graph showing the rate at which food disappears from the plate, compared with an “ideal” graph programmed in by a food therapist. And if the user is eating too quickly, the talking machine will tell them.

Inspired by this work, researchers at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children and the University of Bristol, decided to try out the device on their young, obese patients. “It really did seem to help them,” said Hamilton-Shield.

He said the children learned how to eat more slowly and, as a result, felt full sooner and ate less. “Their portion sizes decreased by a seventh. Even though this may not sound a lot, it is enough to make a difference. And the improvement seems to be durable because it continued six months after the trial finished.”

He said people should aim to take at least 10 minutes to eat meals, ideally sitting at a table rather than in front of the TV.

“What tends to happen when we eat alone or while watching the TV is we eat more quickly. Then we miss the signals that tell us we are full up and to stop eating.”

Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum said a Mandometer was useful but should be superfluous.

“Parents should be able to teach their children to do this themselves. The tragedy is they do not. We have far too many children eating far too much and piling on the pounds, causing future problems not only for themselves but also for the NHS.”


Original Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8440193.stm


Obesity Surpasses Smoking as Top Health Threat

Jan. 5, 2010, Canwest News Service

By Allison Cross

Obesity is now a bigger overall threat to people’s health than smoking, according to results of the longest ongoing health study of adults in the United States.

Obesity causes as much or more disease than tobacco, says the study, conducted by researchers from Columbia University and the City College of New York. It adds that while smoking rates are starting to decline, obesity now shortens as many or even more healthy lifespans than tobacco use.

“Health impacts of obesity are, in many ways, much larger, than the health impacts of smoking,” said Dr. Arya Sharma, chairman for obesity research and management at the University of Alberta. “(Smoking) in the end, is limited to heart disease and cancer.”

The study, conducted over 15 years, was based on interviews with more than 3.5 million people and calculations of the number of “quality-adjusted life years” (QALYs) lost to obesity and smoking.

Quality-adjusted life years are a measurement of the quality and quantity of a life lived, and assign higher scores to perfect or good health, and lower scores to illness, injury and death. Between 1993 and 2008, smoking in American adults declined by 18.5 percent, while the proportion of obese people increased by 85 percent, the study says.

Overall, smoking caused more deaths but obesity has a greater impact on illness, said the researchers.

The results of the study support what doctors and researchers have been saying for many years in the United States and in Canada, said Sharma.

There’s nothing to indicate the results of the study aren’t mirrored in the Canadian population, he said.

Obesity is a complex disease that can lead to diabetes, liver disease, heart disease, sleep apnea, joint replacement and other problems, said Sharma, who added that the effects of obesity are often treated, but not the obesity itself.

“It hits people at young ages now. We’re looking at an epidemic of childhood obesity,” Sharma said. “None of the prevention methods that are being implemented are showing any signs of working. To be effective, they would have to be pretty drastic.”

A study presented in October 2009 at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Edmonton said obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are affecting Canadian teens at alarmingly high rates and are increasing over time.

Sharma said the study demonstrates that anti-smoking campaigns have been effective, but the same approach can’t necessarily be taken to combating obesity.

“The factors causing obesity are so entrenched in our Western lifestyle, from everything starting from how we build our cities and our food policies,” he said. “It’s not just about going out and eating healthy or exercising more. It is, in fact, very difficult for people to eat healthy and exercise more given the lifestyle that most of us currently have.”

Social stigma is no longer an excuse not to speak openly about the dangers of obesity, said Dr. David Lau, president of Obesity Canada and a medical professor at the University of Calgary.

“In 2004, the U.S. surgeon general already announced that obesity has overtaken tobacco as the No. 1 public health enemy, but now we have data to support it,” Lau said. “I think it’s very timely after the Christmas holiday, when we’ve all put on a few pounds, to be more alerted to the fact that obesity is not something to be dismissed.”

The diabetes epidemic in Canada has been fueled by an obesity epidemic and children and young adults have become susceptible to diseases that normally afflict people in their 40s and 50s, Lau said.

“Of course, we have to talk about genetic predisposition but, be that as it may, the major driver for type 2 diabetes is not genetic. It has to do with our eating habits,” he said.


Original Source: http://www.canada.com/health/Obesity+surpasses+smoking+health+threat+study/2409048/story.html


Listing Calories on Fast-Food Menus Cuts Kids’ Intake

Jan. 29, 2010, HealthDay

By Steven Reinberg

When nutritional information is available on fast-food restaurant menus, parents are more apt to pick lower-calorie foods for their kids, new research finds.

Often spurred on by legislation, many U.S. restaurant chains are now posting nutrition information about their menu items. But whether this information would translate to healthier eating was unclear. The new study, conducted with McDonald’s menus, suggests that it does.

“When parents are provided with calorie information they chose about 100 calories less (per meal) for their 3- to 6-year-old child compared to parents who didn’t have that information,” said lead researcher Dr. Pooja Tandon, a graduate fellow in the department of general pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle.

“One hundred calories over time is actually a significant amount in terms of weight gain, given the rates of fast food consumption and childhood obesity in our country,” she added.

The report is published in the Jan. 25 online issue of Pediatrics.

For the study, Tandon’s team surveyed 99 parents of 3- to 6-year-olds about the foods they selected for their children at fast food restaurants.

The parents were given pictures of McDonald’s menu choices and asked which items they would pick for themselves and their children. Half of the menus had calorie information for each item and half did not.

Choices included sandwiches, salads, dressings, side items, beverages, desserts and children’s meals.

The team found that parents given menus with calorie information picked items with an average of 102 less calories for their children than did the parents whose menus didn’t have the calorie data.

However, there was no difference between the two groups in the calories of the items parents selected for themselves.

“We know that fast food consumption has been rising. We know that childhood obesity rates are alarmingly high,” Tandon said. “These results make me optimistic that if parents are provided nutrition information at the point they are purchasing fast food for their children they actually make lower calorie, healthier choices for their families,” she said.

Tandon also hopes that restaurants will change their menus and offer more lower-calorie, healthier meals.

Samantha Heller, a registered dietitian, clinical nutritionist and exercise physiologist, said that “posting calories on menus is a good idea and registered dietitians like me are hoping it will help people make healthier choices when they eat out.”

Consumers also need to consider other food values such as salt, saturated fat and cholesterol, Heller said.

“Ordering healthier and lower-calorie foods for children and adults alike is certainly a goal to shoot for,” she said. “Obviously the epidemic of childhood obesity is of great concern, and we need to take action to ensure the health and well-being of our children.”

Heller said it was “unfortunate” that parents did not order lower-calorie foods for themselves. “Parents are role models for their children. Not only do they need to stay healthy themselves, they need to set an example of engaging in healthy eating and lifestyle behaviors for their children,” she said.

Research presented in October 2009 at the Obesity Society annual meeting in Washington, D.C., mirror the findings of Tandon’s group. In that study, researchers surveyed more than 10,000 customers at 275 fast food restaurants in New York City. They found that those who saw or used the posted calorie information selected items totaling 106 fewer calories, compared with those who did not see or did not use the information.


Original Source: http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/weightloss/2010-01-28-kids-meals_N.htm



Children’s Lunches Filled with Junk Food

Jan. 12, 2010, guardian.co.uk

By Rebecca Smithers

The infamous Turkey Twizzler may have disappeared from the school canteen, but children who eat packed lunches are still eating junk food – supplied by their parents – according to new research.

British children eat 5.5 billion packed lunches each year, but research from the University of Leeds shows that only 1 percent of their lunchboxes meet the tough nutritional standards that have been set for their classmates on school meals. The findings were described as “appalling” by children’s health campaigners, who want all children to be given free, nutritious school meals.

About half of all children in England take a packed lunch to school. In the first study of its kind, the Leeds research team, commissioned by the government’s food watchdog, the Food Standards Agency, found that 82 percent of their lunchboxes contained foods high in saturated fat, salt and sugar, with items chosen by parents including crisps, sweets and biscuits. Only one in five packed lunches contained any vegetables or salad and about half included an item of fruit – yet in the overwhelming majority of cases, even these fell well below the standards demanded of school dinners.

The first statutory school meal standards were introduced in 2006 due to growing evidence linking poor health in adults with obesity or poor diet in childhood. They limit the amount of foods high in salt, sugar and fats that can be served and stipulate that school meals must provide a third of the daily requirement of every nutrient for health. And although the schools watchdog, Ofsted, says schools must have a policy on packed lunches, there is no legislative imperative for them to comply with the same nutritional standards that are applied in the canteen.

Fewer than half of children’s packed lunches met the government’s 2008 nutrient standards, including levels of vitamin A, folate, iron and zinc. On average, girls tended to be given more healthy foodstuffs than boys, and children at schools with fewer pupils eligible for free school meals had healthier packed lunches. Overall, the food least likely to be eaten when provided was fruit, while that most likely to be eaten was confectionery.

The research is published online, ahead of publication in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. It was led by Charlotte Evans of the Leeds Institute of Genetics, Health and Therapeutics, who said: “The lack of equivalent food standards for packed lunches gives cause for concern that they will continue to lag behind the nutritional quality of school meals.”

Even without legislation, there is plenty that schools, parents and manufacturers can do to improve the situation. Evans went on: “Our research has shown that some small steps in the right direction would make a big difference. Even if schools had a policy to provide water for children eating packed lunches, this would significantly reduce their sugar intake from sweetened drinks.

“It is important that schools support health-promotion programs, and strategies are in place to help parents meet nutritional standards by encouraging them to include healthy foods such as protein-rich sandwiches and fruit and vegetables. Simply concentrating on restricting the junk content of lunchboxes can be counter-productive – children at schools where crisps are restricted, for example, end up with lunchboxes containing more confectionery.”

Evans added: “We also need food manufacturers to offer better choices than the traditional high-salt, high-sugar products that busy families rely on to fill the school lunchbox on a daily basis.”

Professor Janet Cade, head of the Nutritional Epidemiology Group at Leeds, added: “While we absolutely understand that many children prefer to take packed lunches to school, it is clear that they are not getting the same benefit from their midday meal as their classmates on school dinners. The poor quality of these meals could have serious implications for levels of childhood obesity and its long-term consequences.”

The Children’s Food Campaign coordinator, Jackie Schneider, commented: “Although these findings are appalling, we are not surprised. A whole industry has grown up around producing foods for lunchboxes, which can contain high levels of salt, fat or sugar. Parents are often misled by marketing for these lunchbox products, which make health claims like ‘high in vitamins’ but also turn out to be high in salt, fat or sugar as well.”

Schneider concluded: “There is now an even stronger case for giving all children a free healthy school meal, which really will start to change our food culture.”


Original Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/jan/12/children-unhealthy-lunchboxes


Childhood Obesity Often Linked to Trauma

Jan. 22, 2010, Weight Loss Surgery News

A study of more than 15,000 teenagers found that childhood trauma raises the odds of obesity at a later age.

Time magazine recently reported a 2009 finding that sexual abuse in childhood increases a boy’s risk of becoming obese in adulthood by 66 percent, and increases a woman’s risk of having an eating disorder.

Other studies indicate similar findings: In 2007, a study of more than 11,000 women showed that those who were victims of childhood abuse had a 27 percent higher risk of obesity than those who had not been abused. And, in the late 1980s, Dr. Vincent Felitti of Kaiser Permanente conducted a study of nearly 300 patients in his obesity treatment program and found that half of them had suffered sexual abuse as children.

So, what’s the connection? Many doctors say in such cases, obesity is driven by the abused child’s need to self-medicate through food. Compared to people who weren’t abused as children, victims have also been linked to higher rates of drug abuse for the same reason. Dr. Felitti said that for these people, self-medication, whether it’s through eating or drugs, doesn’t feel like a problem; it feels like a solution.

Unfortunately, though, just like drug use, overeating can lead to serious problems in the long-term, even after a person has escaped abuse.


Original Source: http://www.weightlosssurgerychannel.com/breaking-wls-news/childhood-obesity-often-linked-to-trauma.html/



First Lady’s Anti-Obesity Initiative

Jan. 20, 2010, Chicago Tribune

By Katherine Skiba

Saying childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years, first lady Michelle Obama asked the nation’s mayors to help her battle an epidemic that could see today’s kids lead shorter lives than their parents.

Obama, speaking before the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said no matter how much she’d read and thought about the problem of obesity among young people, the pertinent statistics “never fail to take my breath away.”

She said nearly one-third of U.S. children now are overweight or obese. She said one-third of today’s children eventually will suffer from diabetes, and, in the African American and Latino communities, the proportion will be almost half.

Obesity, she said, “could now be an even greater threat to America’s health than smoking.” And if the nation stays on its current path, nearly 50 percent of all Americans will be obese in 10 years - “not just overweight, but obese.”

“This isn’t the kind of problem that can be solved in one year, or even one administration,” according to Obama, who is expected to unveil an anti-obesity initiative next month. “But make no mistake about it, this is a problem that can be solved.”

Obama said a host of factors were contributing to the problem, from time-pressed parents with less time to prepare home-cooked meals to kids sitting for hours in front of televisions or playing video games.

She said as a busy working mom she turned too often to pizza or to a drive-through for food, until a nudge from her daughters’ pediatrician, who suggested she modify their diets.

Obama heralded what mayors across the country already are doing to fight fat and promote fitness. She singled out Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, who challenged residents to lose a million pounds and created a Web site, thiscityisgoingonadiet.com, for people to track their progress and share tips.

“So far, 40,000 people have signed up - and together, they’ve lost more than half a million pounds,” she said. Forty of those pounds lost were Cornett’s, she noted.

Obama said she understands that when he dines out now, everyone watches what he orders. “I can relate,” she said to laughter.

Obama also noted that the Arlington, Texas, mayor, who is a physician, gave children pedometers at the end of the school year; in Columbia, Mo., the mayor is building walkways and bikeways; in Bowling Green, Ky., the mayor launched a website to encourage exercise, find parks and trail maps and learn about upcoming races; and in Minneapolis, the mayor brought in farmers’ markets to bring fresh produce to underserved areas.

Obama said she wants “ideas and input” from mayors – and their leadership. “We’re looking to you to be the leaders on the frontlines of this effort across the country,” she said.

She told them that when she tucks her girls into bed at night, she thinks about wanting them to happy and healthy and to “have every chance to follow their aspirations and ambitions.”

She said she wants them to have the tools for success, not just “education and opportunities, but the physical and emotional strength to seize those opportunities.”

“I want them to be able to engage in life with the energy, endurance, and focus,” she said, “because we all know they’re going need it to meet the challenges they’ll face along the way.”

She added: “And I want them to have the blessing that my husband and I have, and that my mother has, of being there to see their own children and grandchildren grown up-and, God willing, their great grandchildren too.”

Obama said what she wanted for her daughters she wants “for every single child in this country.”

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, for whom Obama once worked, was among about 220 mayors attending the Washington, DC, conference at the Capital Hilton.

Daley praised the speech as “very good,” and said cities are talking about the issues Obama raised, including increasing access to quality foods and grocery stores and promoting exercise.

And he said, in answer to a question, that he thinks mayors will heed Obama’s call to get involved in the fight since “it’s an issue that strikes all families.”


Original Source: http://www.baltimoresun.com/health/sns-health-michelle-obama-anti-obesity-initiative,0,385634.story


British Medical Association Takes Stand on Product Placement of ‘Unhealthy’ Food

Jan. 5, 2010, Food BizDaily.com

By Sarah Hills

The British Medical Association (BMA) has formally voiced its concern about plans to allow product placement for alcohol and foods high in fat, sugar and salt on UK television.

The BMA said that allowing product placement of tobacco, alcohol, gambling, and foods high in fat, sugar or salt would “reduce the protection of young people from harmful marketing influences and adversely impact on public health”.

Its comments were made in a submission to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as part of its consultation on Product Placement on Television.

The Government said that it favors changing UK regulation to permit UK television broadcasters to include product placement in their programs.

However, in its submission, the BMA said: “By its nature product placement allows marketing to be integrated into programs, blurring the distinction between advertising and editorial, and is not always recognizable. Studies show that children are particularly susceptible to embedded brand messages and these operate at a subconscious level.”

The BMA has published several reports in relation to key public health concerns, including childhood obesity.

It said there has been an alarming rise in the levels of obesity among children in the UK and this trend is expected to continue.

The BMA added: “The media has an important role to play in forming attitudes to nutrition as advertising and marketing are key policy-level factors which can affect dietary choices.

“The BMA believes that there should be a complete ban on the advertising and marketing of unhealthy foodstuffs, including product placement and inappropriate sponsorship programs targeted at school children. Celebrities and children’s television characters should only endorse healthy products that meet nutritional criteria laid down by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).”

It added that existing safeguards were insufficient.

The professional organization for doctors in the UK also highlighted research which showed that alcohol marketing is independently linked with the onset, continuance and amount of alcohol consumed by young people.


Original Source: http://foodbizdaily.com/articles/95466-british-medical-association-takes-stand-against-product-placement-of.aspx


Healthy Marks for NJ Lunchrooms

Jan. 18, 2010, Courier-Post

By Joseph Gidjunis

New Jersey school lunchrooms offer some of the most nutritious options in the country, according to a school health profile report compiled by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC recognized the Garden State as one of the 10 best nationwide for its percentage of high schools selling more nutritious food and drinks. Fewer high schools have vending machines, cafeterias or school stores selling soda, candy bars or fattier chips. And the state is in the top percentile of states offering more fruits and non-fried vegetables, according to the CDC’s 2008 School Health Profile.

Much of the compliance comes from state regulations implemented within the past two years forbidding less healthy food and drinks to be sold on school property. All forms of candy, any product listing sugar as the primary ingredient and any food with minimal nutritional value may not even be handed out for free in schools.

Drinks are also restricted. In elementary schools, only milk, water or juices made from 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice are allowed. The threshold is less in middle and high schools, but beverages must not contain too much fat or sugar, according to the state Agriculture Department.

“We are transforming the culture in our schools as it applies to good nutrition and the development of healthier habits,” said state Commissioner of Education Lucille E. Davy, in a news statement.

In South Jersey, districts such as Cherry Hill and Camden have found students choosing the healthier options with enthusiasm. Vending machines in both districts now have healthier snacks, baked chips and fewer traditional candy bar options.

In several Cherry Hill elementary schools, besides the typical cafeteria fare, students are stopping by the Cool*Caf, a fruits and vegetables island where apples, pears, carrots, bananas and other fresh options are staples.

“These kids, their palettes are changing. I think we’re seeing a generation of kids being raised on healthier food,” said Cherry Hill School District spokeswoman Susan Bastnagel. The Cool*Caf is an Aramark concept started about a year ago, said David Gargione, a spokesman for Aramark.

“From feedback we’ve gotten from Cherry Hill, kids have a liking to this option and taken advantage of it,” Gargione said.

Learning Partner Schools

At Woodrow Wilson High School in Camden, Principal Tyrone Richards said his faculty and students are part of a state pilot program to encourage healthier schools. Eight “Learning Partner Schools” were chosen to establish wellness teams to assess health policies and practices. The teams are meant to engage staff, students, parents and the community to support healthier lifestyles. Burlington City Junior/Senior High School is also in the partnership, according to the state Education Department.

“For example, we purchased healthier snacks. Instead of potato chips, we offer low-fat pretzels,” Richards said.

Culture change

Camden City spokesperson Bart Leff said there is culture change in all of the city’s schools, where students don’t have access to less-nutritious items.

“The menu has changed to reflect a healthier caloric content for the kids,” Leff said.


Original Source: http://www.courierpostonline.com/article/20100118/NEWS01/1180322/Healthy-marks-for-lunchrooms


London and New York Join Forces to Fight Childhood Obesity

Jan. 25, 2010, Mayor of London’s Office

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has welcomed the findings of a new report tackling obesity in kids in both London and New York.

The report “A Tale of Two ObesCities” was compiled by the London Metropolitan University and City University of New York. It was launched today at a City Hall seminar discussing flab fighting initiatives used in both cities.

In both London and New York City, childhood obesity rates are higher than in the United Kingdom and the United States as a whole. The report found that London and New York experience common challenges — both cities have highly mobile populations, child poverty and overcrowding.

Recommendations included promoting activities like walking and cycling and building active design principles into building codes, and housing plans.

Key findings include:

  • Nearly 23 per cent of London’s four years olds are obese, rising to 36.3 per cent by the age of eleven.
  • In New York 40 per cent of kids of a similar age are obese.
  • In both cities obesity rates are higher in boys than in girls.
  • Poorest children have highest rates of obesity - both cities are characterised by high levels of income inequality.

The report will help develop some of the plans in the Mayor’s forthcoming Health Inequalities Strategy and officials from the Mayor’s Office have worked closely with partners in New York on effective health initiatives.

Mayor Boris Johnson said: “A superb 2012 legacy for London would be the obliteration of childhood obesity. We are championing effective plans across the capital to fight this and I hope that working with New York will result in leaner, fitter children and families in both our cities.

“I want to take on the fast food companies who mercilessly lure children into excessive calorie consumption. Instead of junk snacks let’s encourage kids to grow their own food. Many youngsters are unaware of the magic of seeing a seed flourish into a nourishing item you can eat.

If schools can help create mini-farms we could cultivate a nation of enthused Jamie Oliver’s.

“I’m also investing millions in the sports and parks that every child in our city should have access to. Cycling, swimming, football and running round parks are great physical exercise and most importantly, immense fun. We must also help the poorest communities who are most vulnerable to bad diets of poor quality food. A key part of my health inequalities plan is to increase access to affordable healthy alternatives.”

Eileen O’Keefe, a professor of public health from London Metropolitan University said “London and New York face common challenges with highly mobile populations, child poverty, and overcrowding. The report demonstrates that the two cities’ approaches towards tackling these issues are different, and so they could benefit from collaboration and learning from each other’s experiences.”

Guest speakers at the health event included Rosie Boycott, Chair of London Food, who discussed the need for more sustainable food growth and local food growing projects. Pamela Chesters, the mayoral adviser on Health and Youth Opportunities discussed ways food providers could offer a better range of appetizing healthy menus.


Original Source: http://www.egovmonitor.com/node/32925



USDA Joins National Dairy Council, NFL in Promotion

Jan. 18, 2010, USAgNet

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has joined a campaign to fight and defeat childhood obesity in cooperation with the NFL, National Dairy Council, multiple health organizations and several major corporations. The campaign, known as Fuel Up to Play 60, is funded with an initial private sector financial commitment of $250 million over five years by America’s Dairy Farmers.

Funding is expected to grow as government, business, communities and families join this effort to improve nutrient-rich food choices and achieve 60 minutes of physical activity each day among children. More than 58,000, or 60 percent, of the nation’s 96,000 private and public schools are currently enrolled in Fuel Up to Play 60.

It is possible that today’s children could become the first American generation with a shorter life expectancy than their parents. One-third of American children are overweight or obese. The obesity prevalence is about three to four times that of just one generation ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Today is a significant milestone in the fight against childhood obesity because this unprecedented partnership will help educate our youth about steps they can and should take to lead healthy lives,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Increasing access to more nutrient-rich foods and physical activity in America’s schools is no simple task, and will require the combined effort of private and public interests. Partnerships like these, combined with a strong reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Programs, can make a significant difference in our battle against childhood obesity.”

Vilsack joined Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, and Tom Gallagher, CEO of Dairy Management Inc., the managing organization for National Dairy Council, at a New York City public school to support and promote the initiative.

. . .

As an initial step, these partners will work together to promote and expand Fuel Up to Play 60. Based on the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the program empowers students in grades 4 through 10 to engage their peers to “fuel up” with nutrient-rich foods they often lack - particularly low-fat and fat-free milk and milk products, fruits, vegetables and whole grains - and “get up and play” with 60 minutes of daily physical activity.


Original Source: http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-national.php?Id=116&yr=2010


Making a Healthy Lunch, and Making It a Cause

Jan. 24, 2010, New York Times

By Daniel Weintraub

Between them, Kristin Richmond and Kirsten Tobey have worked on Wall Street, traveled the world and taught school from East Africa to Ecuador. Now they make lunch for a living.

Friends since they met in business school at the University of California, Berkeley, Richmond and Tobey founded Revolution Foods, Inc., to ride a political and economic wave: surging support for healthier food in school cafeterias.

Federal nutrition guidelines require subsidized school lunches to meet benchmarks on calories and fat, but they do not require that foods be whole, local, truly nutritious or good to eat.

As a result, the standard cafeteria fare is doing little to curb the nation’s rising rate of childhood obesity and might even be contributing to it.

That was the problem that Richmond and Tobey identified in a graduate school class and set out to solve. What began as a class project is now a growing company with headquarters in Oakland, 240 employees and operations in Los Angeles, Denver and Washington.

“The momentum around this issue is unbelievable,” said Tobey in an interview this month.

Richmond, 34, the company’s chief executive, and Tobey, 31, the chief operating officer, came together in 2005 just as child obesity and nutrition were moving toward the top of the nation’s health policy agenda.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, had made fighting obesity a major priority. Schwarzenegger signed legislation boosting nutrition standards for school meals and limiting the sale of soda and junk food on campus. He also authorized a pilot project to increase the reimbursement for school breakfasts by 10 cents if the meal included fresh fruits or vegetables.

Schwarzenegger is expected to propose new measures this year, and now Michelle Obama has joined the movement, announcing that she will make fighting childhood obesity a special cause in the White House. In the January speech to the United States Conference of Mayors, the First Lady called it one of the “biggest threats” to the American economy.

As students at Berkeley, Richmond and Tobey saw this trend coming. They interviewed dozens of teachers, parents and school officials in the Bay Area to learn more about the school meal business and to find out what kind of change might appeal to the school community.

“The teachers said they were embarrassed,” Tobey said. “They were teaching about nutrition in their classrooms and then the kids were going into the lunch room and saying, ‘Why are you serving me this?’ ”

So Revolution Foods adopted higher standards than the government requires for school meal programs. The meals are prepared fresh daily and feature foods free of artificial preservatives, colors, flavors and sweeteners. Every lunch includes fresh fruit and vegetables.

The breakfasts and lunches contain no high-fructose corn syrup or trans fats, the milk is hormone-free and the meats are from cattle that have not been given antibiotics or hormones. Whenever possible, the food is organic and uses locally grown ingredients. Nothing is fried.

Revolution Foods built a partnership with Whole Foods, the natural foods grocery store chain, and tapped into that company’s network of suppliers. Whole Foods also prepared and packaged the first meals Revolution Foods sold to an Oakland charter school as a pilot to see if the business could be viable.

Even before that project ended, other local schools began inquiring about the service, and the business quickly grew and attracted capital from investment firms with a social mission, including the Bay Area Equity Fund. Today Revolution Foods is serving more than 30,000 lunches a day, mostly in low-income communities, and still growing.

Later this year Congress and the president will most likely reauthorize the federal child nutrition program, which subsidizes school meals for poor children. Richmond and Tobey say they hope to see that bill increase reimbursements to the schools while targeting any new money to schools that buy or make meals that use whole, fresh foods and healthy ingredients.

That would improve nutrition for children while boosting Revolution Foods’ bottom line. The idea that they could do both has been at the heart of the pair’s business plan from the beginning.


Original Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/24/us/24sfpolitics.html


Sale of Junk Food to Be Banned in Ontario Schools

Jan. 21, 2010, The Windsor Star

By Don Lajoie

Starting the first day of school in 2011, students will face a total ban on the sale of candy, chocolate, pop, fries and energy drinks on school property, the province has announced.

In making the announcement on behalf of the Ontario Ministry of Education, MPP Pat Hoy (L — Chatham-Kent-Essex) said the ban addresses an increasing trend of overweight children making bad health choices. He said the goal, ultimately, is to save the province money in future health costs.

“Studies show that 28 percent of our students, between ages 2 and 17, are overweight or obese,” said Hoy. “Naturally, that’s not a good state to be in, leading to all sorts of health problems like diabetes and heart disease.

“We would like to do something about it. Also, good nutrition seems to be a significant factor in how well children do in school.”

Hoy said the new nutrition standards, which will be mandatory across the province by Sept. 1, 2011, will be covered under the Health Food For Schools Act, which also requires 20 minutes of daily activity for elementary students.

A government background paper says fewer than half of Ontario’s high school age students eat the recommended daily minimum of fruits and vegetables.

“The nutrition standards will make it easier for schools to determine which foods they can and cannot sell,” said Hoy. “Fully, 80 percent of the new school menu must include products with the highest levels of essential nutrients and the lowest amounts of fat, sugar and sodium.” He said those replacement items may include more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grain breads.

Only 20 percent of the menu can include products with slightly higher amounts of fat, sugar and sodium, such as bagels and cheese.

Mario Iatonna, superintendent of business for the Catholic school board, said educators have known the ban was coming for more than a year and have been adjusting menus accordingly. He said administrators met with the cafeteria contractors last week and were assured “everything possible” will be done to meet the standards.

“We fully intend to comply, but it’s difficult,” said Iatonna. “We can control what goes into the cafeteria and the vending machines, but fundraising events for student council and parent groups may be more difficult to police. We have 50 schools and there are a lot of fundraisers.”

He said organizers may have to come up more creative ideas for fundraising.

Iatonna said he didn’t have the numbers at his fingertips but such promotions activities raise a “significant amount” of cash for school projects such as field trips.

Warren Kennedy, director of the public board, said the ban is in the children’s best interests.

“We will have to have an information and education program at school and at home to accomplish what the ministry hopes to accomplish,” he said.

Public board Trustee Julia Burgess was less impressed.

“It makes me think of forbidden fruit,” she said. ‘We can’t police what kids bring in their lunch box. Parents still have the opportunity to place healthy food or anything else in there. And students of a certain age can travel anywhere they want outside of school to get their snacks.”


Original Source: http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/Sale+junk+food+banned+