July 2010






F as in Fat 2010 Finds Continued Rise in Nation’s Obesity Rates

June 29, 2010, RWJF Childhood Obesity

The country’s obesity epidemic continues to worsen, as detailed in F as in Fat 2010: How the Obesity Crisis Threatens America’s Future. Adult obesity rates climbed in 28 states during the past year and now exceed 25 percent in more than two-thirds of the states, with rates higher among Blacks and Latinos.

The report, by Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), discusses how the nation’s response has yet to fully match the magnitude of the problem. At the same time, it highlights public recognition of the issue and acute concern over the prevalence of childhood obesity.

A survey commissioned by RWJF and TFAH found that eight in 10 voters believe childhood obesity is a serious problem—a viewpoint that transcends all demographic boundaries. More than half of voters say that a comprehensive program to combat childhood obesity is worth the financial investment, even if the program would sharply increase government spending.

The report suggests ways to ensure that the disease-prevention measures in the new health reform law are implemented most strategically to help prevent and reduce obesity. Other recommendations include expanding the commitment to community-based prevention programs and sustaining investments in research and evaluation.



Panel: Obesity Is Century’s Greatest Public Health Threat

June 15, 2010, USA Today

By Nanci Hellmich

Obesity is “the single greatest threat to public health in this century,” an expert panel declared in a June report that urges Americans to slash calories and increase their physical activity.

An advisory committee for the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans calls on people to cut back on added sugars and solid fats (butter, marbled meats) and to follow a more nutrient-rich, plant-based diet.

The report is based on the latest scientific evidence and was prepared by a 13-member panel of national nutrition and health experts. The public now has until July 15 to submit comments at www.dietaryguidelines.gov.

The final 2010 dietary guidelines will be released later this year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services.

About two-thirds of adults and one-third of children in the United States are overweight or obese. The advisory committee highlighted four major steps:

  • Reduce excess weight and obesity by cutting calorie intake and increasing physical activity.
  • Shift to a more plant-based diet that emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Increase the intake of seafood and fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products, and eat only moderate amounts of lean meats, poultry and eggs.
  • Significantly reduce intake of foods containing added sugars and solid fats, which contribute about 35 percent of the calories in the American diet. Cut sodium intake gradually to 1,500 milligrams a day and lower intake of refined grains, especially those with added sugar, solid fat and sodium.
  • Meet the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Those recommend that adults get at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, such as brisk walking, or 1.25 hours of a vigorous-intensity activity, such as jogging or swimming laps, or a combination of the two types. Children and teens should do an hour or more of moderate-intensity to vigorous physical activity each day.

The report calls for many changes in the food environment, including:

  • Improve nutrition literacy and cooking skills, and motivate people, especially families with children, to prepare healthy foods at home.
  • Improve the availability of affordable fresh produce through greater access to grocery stores, produce trucks and farmers’ markets.
  • Encourage restaurants and the food industry to offer health-promoting foods that are low in sodium; limited in added sugars, refined grains and solid fats; and served in smaller portions.

The dietary guidelines were first published in 1980 and are updated every five years. They’re used for government nutrition programs and education, as well as by dietitians and health professionals to help educate people about eating healthier.

“Basic nutrition advice hasn’t changed much over the 30 years that the dietary guidelines have been published, but what has changed is it is harder and harder to eat well,” says Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer group based in Washington, DC.

“For Americans today, healthy eating is like swimming upstream. It’s not that you can’t do it, it’s just it’s so hard,” she says. “Without changing the food environment, people don’t stand a chance of following the advice in the dietary guidelines.”

Three steps to lower your calories, she says: Cut portions, eat less when dining out and drink fewer sugary beverages.


Original Source: http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/weightloss/



Study Shows Major Changes Needed to Support Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in U.S. Elementary Schools

June 8, 2010

A comprehensive study from Bridging the Gap and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that the nation’s elementary schools commonly offer their students junk food and soda, serve meals that don’t meet current dietary guidelines, and provide little time for physical activity.

The report, School Policies and Practices to Improve Health and Prevent Obesity: National Elementary School Survey Results, examined practices that affect nutrition, physical activity and obesity prevention for tens of millions of students. Its conclusions are especially relevant to the upcoming congressional debate on the reauthorization of child nutrition programs.

Among the key findings from the 2007–2008 school year:

  • Sixty-two percent of public elementary school students were able to purchase competitive foods or beverages on campus. These items, sold or served outside of school meal programs, often included soda, candy, cookies and french fries.
  • Meals served through the National School Lunch Program often included higher-fat items such as pizza, french fries, and 2 percent or whole milk.
  • Only 20 percent of public school third-graders were offered daily physical education, and only 18 percent were offered at least 150 minutes of weekly physical education, as recommended by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.



2010 Shape of the Nation Report Available

Since 1987, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) has compiled the Shape of the Nation Report on a periodic basis to measure physical education standards in the American education system. This report provides current information on the status of physical education in each of the states and the District of Columbia. Advocates can use this information in presentations, letters and other means of communication with federal and state policymakers, the media and the general public as part of the basis for expanding and improving physical education.



Blue Cross and Blue Shield Companies Expand Pediatric Partnership to Combat Childhood Obesity

June 9, 2010, PRNewswire-USNewswire

In collaboration with Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) launched the Good Health ClubSM Physician Toolkit – unique educational materials designed to foster better communication between pediatricians and their patients on childhood obesity and diabetes prevention. The toolkit will be available to pediatricians in communities across the country.

The toolkit, developed in consultation with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), also builds on materials that Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies have successfully used across the country to encourage healthy choices and behaviors for children. The toolkit is available in both English and Spanish and contains tip sheets, wall posters, physician reference materials, tracking sheets, and brochures with educational information. As part of the Blues’ commitment to making communities healthier, Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies will make the toolkits available to pediatricians in their networks to use with all patients, not just Blue Cross and Blue Shield members.

“As community-based health plans with nearly 80 years of experience in providing healthcare benefits, Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies have long pioneered innovative programs at the local level to help address childhood obesity and diabetes,” said Scott P. Serota, BCBSA president and CEO. “The launch of the Good Health Club Physician Toolkit takes the fight against childhood obesity to a new level, by providing pediatricians with essential tools to encourage lifelong healthy living habits for America’s youth.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the last two decades type 2 diabetes (formerly known as adult-onset diabetes) has been reported among U.S. children and adolescents with increasing frequency. One-in-three U.S. children born in 2000 could develop diabetes during their lifetime and the prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 more than doubled in the past 20 years, going from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 17 percent in 2006.

“Every 20 seconds someone is diagnosed with diabetes in the United States. That’s 4,320 people every day. It’s an epidemic,” said Larry Hausner, chief executive officer of the American Diabetes Association. “We hope that programs such as the Good Health Club Physician Toolkit will emphasize the importance of healthy habits. Simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference to stop diabetes and its devastating complications.”

The Good Health Club Physician Toolkit features messages from the “Good Health Club,” a group of animal characters that encourages children to:

  • Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day
  • Limit screen time to two hours or less
  • Get at least one hour of physical activity
  • Limit sweetened drinks to zero

Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are making the toolkit available to physicians in time for back-to-school physician visits prior to the 2010-2011 school year.

BCBSA launched a pilot of the physician toolkits last year in collaboration with five Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies and the assistance of the Quality Improvement Innovation Network – a program of the AAP.

“The obesity epidemic threatens our health as a nation, with one-third of children in the US overweight or obese,” said Sandra Hassink, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Obesity Leadership Workgroup. “The American Academy of Pediatrics applauds BCBSA for its important efforts to support healthcare professionals in preventing childhood obesity at the point of care.”

Physicians participating in the pilot were surveyed before and after using the toolkits and feedback from participating physicians was overwhelmingly positive – 79 percent considered the educational materials effective and 74 percent would recommend them to a colleague. Sixty-nine percent of physicians said they discuss health habits with patients and their families more often and that the “5-2-1-0” message is in line with what they teach patients.

“During my 17 years of clinical practice I have seen a growing number of patients with negative health effects from obesity,” said Dr. Edie Bernosky, a pediatrician from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “I have found the materials in the Good Health Club Physician Toolkit useful in motivating families to make lifestyle changes necessary for my patients to obtain healthier weights. The messages help parents and children understand that there are specific things they can do to prevent obesity, and are ones that pediatricians can use in every well child examination.”

The Good Health Club Physician Toolkit supports the goals of the Obama administration’s efforts to curb childhood obesity. As community-based health plans, Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies have pioneered programs at the local level to help families exercise regularly and take charge of managing their overall health and well-being – many of these programs can help inform the Let’s Move! childhood obesity initiative.

“It is important to the future of our nation that we encourage healthy behaviors among our children such as regular physical activity and sound nutrition,” said Rear Admiral Penny Slade-Sawyer. “We are making progress towards creating a healthier generation by changing behaviors and attitudes that will help curb childhood obesity and diabetes through programs such as the First Lady’s Let’s Move! child obesity initiative and community efforts that partner with providers.”

The physician toolkit is the latest in a number of efforts Blue Plans have underway to combat childhood obesity and prevent diabetes. A compendium – Commitment to the Next Generation of Healthy Americans – details how Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies nationwide are leveraging local partnerships to build, design and support programs that target obesity and diabetes prevention.

One Blue program included in the new compendium is Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Arizona’s WalkOn! Challenge, which encourages fifth graders statewide to exercise for at least 60 minutes every day for the entire month of February. In the past five years, more than 170,000 children have participated in this school-based program and logged more than 781.6 million minutes of exercise. The program was designed to engage teachers and schools as an integral part of the initiative, and help incorporate relevant educational materials into curricula, set up activity programs and encourage student participation.

To view the Good Health Club Physician Toolkit and for more information about what the Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are doing in their communities to combat childhood obesity and diabetes, please visit www.bcbs.com/goodhealthclub.


Original Source: http://www.bcbs.com/news/bcbsa/


CDC Releases Fact Sheets

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released two fact sheets: ”The Obesity Epidemic and United States Students,” and ”The State and Large Urban School District Fact Sheets.” For more details and to download the fact sheets, click here.




Teens Who Snack May Weigh Less

June 25, 2010, Fox News

Teenagers who have snacks throughout the day are less likely to be overweight or obese than their peers who limit themselves to larger meals, a new study suggests.

The study, of 5,800 U.S. teenagers included in a government health survey, found that rates of obesity, and abdominal obesity specifically, declined with the number of snacks kids had each day.

Of teens who said they did not snack, 39 percent were overweight or obese; that compared with rates of 30 percent, 28 percent and 22 percent among their peers who consumed two, three or four or more snacks in a day, respectively.

Similarly, the rate of abdominal obesity was 24 percent among non-snacking teens, while the lowest rate — 11 percent — was seen in the four-snack-a-day group.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, add to a conflicting body of research on whether snacking is good or bad for the waistline.

Some studies have linked snacking to lower body weight, while others have not. And while there is some evidence of metabolic benefits in having more-frequent, smaller meals throughout the day — in managing cholesterol levels and diabetes, for instance — it is not clear whether such eating patterns help prevent weight gain or promote weight loss.

What’s more, if people do not balance their snacking by eating less at meal time, that between-meal “grazing” could help pack on the pounds.

In one recent study, researchers found that U.S. children increased their snacking between 1977 and 2006 — downing an average of three snacks per day in the most recent year. Desserts and sugary drinks were the top sources of snack calories, the researchers found, and they speculated that this trend “toward constant eating” may be one of the reasons for the rise in childhood obesity.

In the new study, however, “snackers” were the thinner ones.

When the researchers accounted for a number of other factors — including exercise habits (active teens may need more snacks for energy), time spent in front of the TV or computer, ethnicity and family income — snacking itself remained linked to a lower risk of being overweight or obese.

Teens who reported having four or more snacks in a day were 60 percent less likely to be overweight or obese, and similarly less likely to have abdominal obesity, than their peers who reported no snacking.

The researchers also looked at whether the teens had been trying to lose weight. Logically, people trying to shed pounds might cut out snacks, and that could account for the higher rate of obesity among non-snackers, explained lead researcher Dr. Debra R. Keast, of Food & Nutrition Database Research Inc., in Okemos, Michigan.

But weight-loss attempts did not explain the connection between teenagers’ more-frequent snacking and a lower risk of excess pounds, Keast told Reuters Health.

The findings do not prove that snacking itself helps kids control their weight. A key limitation of the study, Keast pointed out, is that teenagers were surveyed at one point in time; all were part of a government health and nutrition survey conducted between 1999 and 2004, in which they were asked to recall everything they had eaten in the past 24 hours.

To help confirm a connection between snacking and lower weight, Keast said that studies should follow kids over time — seeing whether those who report frequent snacks are less likely to become overweight in the future.

For now, the bottom line for parents is to encourage their kids to have healthy snacks, according to Keast. That means foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy — the types of foods, Keast said, “that we know kids are not getting enough of.”

Cutting out sugary beverages is another wise move. Keast noted that she and her colleagues did not consider sugar-sweetened drinks to be “snacks” in this study; but other studies have, and that may be one reason her team’s findings differ from those of some past research.

Find the report here.


Original Source: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,595325,00.html


N.Y. Soda Tax Would Curb Obesity, Diabetes

June 24, 2020, The Wall Street Journal

By R.M. Schneiderman

New Yorkers seem to oppose Gov. Paterson’s proposed penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. But over the next decade, the tax could curb soda consumption and prevent tens of thousands of cases of adult obesity and type 2 diabetes, a change that would save state residents an estimated $2.1 billion in related medical expenditures, according to a new study commissioned by the New York City Health Department.

The study, conducted by Dr. Claire Wang, a professor of health policy and management at Columbia University, analyzed various surveys on sugary drink consumption, related health risks and the effects of price on consumer choices. The findings: a soda tax would reduce consumption of sugary beverages by 15 percent to 20 percent. It would also prevent an estimated 37,000 or more cases of type 2 diabetes and an estimated 145,000 or more cases of adult obesity over the next decade.

“Drinking beverages loaded with sugars increases the risk of obesity and associated problems such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and cancer,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, the city’s health commissioner in a statement. “In New York City alone, diabetes causes 20,000 hospitalizations, 3,000 amputations and 4,700 deaths every year.”

Wang’s study found that the tax would most benefit people between the ages of 20 and 44, particularly blacks, Latinos and lower-income New Yorkers, who are among the groups most affected by diabetes and obesity.

As The Journal reports, the beverage industry lobby has said a tax on sugary drinks would unfairly target people with low incomes and would not effectively reduce soda consumption.

The proposed soda tax remains one of the remaining deals to hash out in Albany as lawmakers look fill the state’s $9.2 billion budget gap — something the governor has said he wants finished. Aside from taxing soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages, the measure would do away with state and local sales tax on bottled water, diet soda and other drinks with ten or fewer calories per 8 ounces. The Paterson administration estimates that the measure would raise $815 million a year.

“These tax revenues could potentially be used to generate even more health benefits for New York residents by funding programs to promote healthy eating and active lifestyles for adults and children,” said Wang.


Original Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2010/06/24/


What if You Ate Only What Was Advertised on TV?

June 2, 2010, TIME

By Alice Park

It should come as no surprise that the typical American diet isn’t exactly brimming with healthy goodness — rather, it’s laden with fat, sugar and salt. And now new research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association points to a troubling reason: TV ads for food may be skewing our decisions on what we eat in powerful ways.

To figure out exactly how unhealthy a TV-guided diet would be, researchers studied food commercials that appeared during 84 hours of prime-time programming and 12 hours of Saturday-morning cartoons broadcast over the major U.S. networks during one month in 2004. When the research team calculated the nutritional content of a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet containing only foods that were advertised on television, they found that it exceeded the government’s recommended daily amount of fat by 20 times and had 25 times the recommended daily intake of sugar. “That’s almost a month’s worth of sugar in one day,” notes study leader Michael Mink at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Ga.

In addition, the TV-marketed diet provided less than half the recommended daily servings of fruit, vegetables and dairy.

In fact, the sources of nutrition in the TV-ad diet were almost the exact opposite of what the government’s food pyramid recommends. Instead of making up the smallest proportion of a day’s calories, as nutritionists advise, fats and sugars accounted for the largest portion of calories in a diet based on television advertising. Couple this nutritional inversion with the fact that marketing campaigns are notoriously effective in influencing people’s behavior and the result is what many nutrition experts call a toxic environment — one that dissuades Americans from making healthy food choices and encourages inactivity.

In the year the study took place, the authors point out that foodmakers spent $11.3 billion hawking their products, while the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees national nutritional recommendations, spent only $268 million — 2 percent of the total that was funneled into food marketing — on nutritional education.

What’s more, says Mink, advertising campaigns not only skew toward products that are high in fat, sugar and salt but also guide people away from foods that are rich in essential nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, contributing to a deficiency in many Americans. The 775 foods advertised on TV contained inadequate amounts of 12 essential nutrients — such as calcium, potassium, fiber, vitamins D and E, and magnesium — and provided an abundance of saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

The study’s findings may not be revelatory to anyone with even a vague understanding of a proper diet, but they do remind us that television and mass-media messages wield great influence over our behavior. They also offer hope, says Mink: if advertising can entice people to choose unhealthy foods, it might also be co-opted to push people toward fruits, vegetables and other natural or less processed options. Studies have shown, for example, that past education campaigns that were designed to inform the public about the heart risks associated with diets high in cholesterol and fat and encourage consumers to choose low-fat versions of foods were not successful in getting people to change their eating habits. But when foodmakers started advertising their lower-fat products on TV, their consumption went up.

Mink acknowledges that such a fundamental shift in food marketing may not be realistic, at least not now. While many restaurant chains and food manufacturers offer healthier choices, they still highlight their more indulgent and unhealthy products in advertisements. “It’s the perennial question of whether these products are being advertised because we want them or because we want them because they are being advertised,” Mink says. “Where we come down on it is that it’s a little bit of both — and it’s a reinforcing cycle. But that cycle can be changed.”


Original Source: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1993220,00.html



Cartoon Characters Sell Kids on Unhealthy Foods

June 21, 2010, U.S. News and World Report

By Alan Mozes

Popular cartoon characters are influencing the taste preferences of very young children, and not in a positive way, a new study suggests. Researchers found that the branding of American food product packaging with characters such as Dora the Explorer drives preschoolers to choose higher-calorie, less healthful foods over more nutritious options.

“The bottom line is that when kids are presented with a choice of graham crackers, fruit snacks or carrots, and the only difference is that one package has a licensed character on it, they actually think that the food with the character tastes better,” said study author Christina Roberto, a doctoral student working at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

The findings, reported online June 21 in Pediatrics, reflect on the food preferences of 4- to 6-year-old boys and girls who found foods tastier when the packaging bore the likenesses of beloved TV and movie characters.

The authors looked at 40 preschoolers – described as “ethnically diverse” – attending four child-care centers in New Haven. Over the course of two visits, the team presented the children with samples from three different food types: low-nutrient/low-energy graham crackers; low-nutrient/high-energy gummy fruit snacks; and high-nutrient/low-energy baby carrots.

All the foods were packaged with the same color, shape and design, with one brandless and one branded example from each food category. Branded versions bore the likenesses of eminently recognizable cartoon characters: either Scooby Doo, Dora or Shrek.

By the study’s conclusion, all the children had sampled each type of food, both with and without character branding.

Overall, the children perceived foods that had character branding as being tastier than those that didn’t, the researchers found.

However, the character branding of carrots, the healthiest option, was not quite as persuasive at driving taste as it was for the two less healthy options. This, the authors suggested, could be because healthy foods are character-branded much less often than junk foods.

“We think what might be going on with that is familiarity,” Roberto theorized. “Which means that kids are simply really used to seeing characters on foods that are processed. And those foods are also more palatable, so the effects might be accentuated.”

Roberto and her colleagues think the findings highlight the need to restrict the use of character licensing on certain unhealthy foods.

“We restrict this kind of cartoon marketing of cigarettes to kids because it’s a public health issue,” she noted. “We want to protect our children. So I think there’s a great parallel there.”

“So the priority should be first to get these characters off of unhealthy foods,” she added. “And then as a goal ultimately to get them actually put on the packaging for healthy foods. But first we have to focus on dealing with the unhealthy options, because I don’t think slapping them on healthy foods while they’re still on unhealthy foods is going to work.”

Rahil D. Briggs, director of Healthy Steps at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, agrees that combining popular imagery with unhealthful foods is problematic and likely contributing to the obesity epidemic.

“What is unique about children at this age is that although they have fairly advanced cognitive skills and short-term and long-term memory in place, they do not have the ability to be skeptical about the messages they are receiving,” she said.

“So what we, as adults, think of as advertising – and we know how persuasive it can be – it is not different to them than simply choosing the Dora the Explorer coloring book over a random coloring book. They identify with the coloring book, and they want everything Dora, from soup to nuts.”

It follows then, Briggs added, “that when in the grocery aisle with Mom absolutely they will choose the Dora cereal to complement the rest of their Dora collection.”

She noted that the alarming increase in obesity among very young children – rates have more than doubled since the 1970s, she said – correlates with a parallel spike in the amount of money that the food industry spends on targeting advertising to very young children.

“So when you pair the very sweet foods with the character brands, it’s almost too powerful for parents to battle,” she concluded. “It’s like a one-two punch.”

View report here.


Original Source: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/diet-fitness/diet/articles/2010/06/21/cartoon-characters-sell-kids-on-unhealthy-foods.html?PageNr=1


Poorer Neighborhoods Linked to Obesity

June 15, 2010, United Press International, Inc.

Children are more likely to be obese if they live in disadvantaged neighborhoods, U.S. researchers say. Researchers at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, the University of Washington and Group Health Research Institute, say their look at 8,000 children indicates a disadvantaged environment can set families up for ill health.

The study, published online in advance of print in Social Science & Medicine, finds obesity most common in children in neighborhoods having the least-educated females, most single-parent households, lowest median household income, highest proportion of non-white residents and fewest homes owned.

These five socioeconomic factors accounted for 24 percent of the variability in childhood obesity rates across neighborhoods. The likelihood of childhood obesity rose by 17 percent to 24 percent for each of three measures of neighborhood social disadvantage.

“We were a little surprised that each of the census tract factors we included appeared to contribute, in a slightly different way, to the likelihood of childhood obesity,” lead author Dr. H. Mollie Greves Grow of the University of Washington, Seattle Children’s, and Harborview Medical Center, says in a statement.

Grow and colleagues looked at anonymous electronic medical record information on 8,616 children ages 6 to 18 and social and economic characteristics of Seattle-area census tracts.


Original Source: http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2010/06/15/



Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act of 2010

June 10, 2010, Committee on Education and Labor

By Betsy Miller Kittredge

For millions of families, the meals their children receive at school or in child care are their only chance at a healthy meal all day. In 2008, more than 16 million children lived in homes without access to enough nutritious food. America’s children should not have to go hungry – they should have access to healthy foods year round that will help them thrive physically and academically.

We expect children to come to school prepared to learn but hunger and poor nutrition can present major barriers to their success in the classroom. And, since hunger does not take a summer vacation, providing children with year round access to healthier, nutritious foods means children won’t go hungry just because school is out.

The Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act (H.R. 5504) will dramatically improve children’s access to nutritious meals, enhance the quality of meals children eat both in and out of school and in child care settings, implement new school food safety guidelines and, for the first time, establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools.

This new legislation will answer President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama’s call to reduce childhood hunger and support school and community efforts to reduce childhood obesity.

Specifically, these new investments in child nutrition will:

Improve access to school meal programs

  • Increase the number of eligible children enrolled in the school lunch programs by using Medicaid/SCHIP data to directly certify children who meet income requirements without requiring individual applications and requiring states to establish and execute a plan to increase rates of direct certification.
  • Provide enhanced universal meal access for eligible children in high poverty communities by eliminating paper applications and using census data to determine school wide income eligibility.
  • Increase children’s access to healthy school breakfasts by providing competitive grants to school districts to start up or improve their program.

Improve access to out of school meal programs

  • Ensure fewer children go hungry year round by providing meals for over 225,000 children through seamless meal service for children in school based and community based summer and after-school programs, and in low income rural areas.
  • Improve access for children in home-based child care by reducing administrative costs for sponsors of child care meal programs.

Help schools and child care improve the quality of meals

  • Assist schools in meeting meal requirements proposed by the Institute of Medicine by increasing the reimbursement rate for lunch by 6 cents per meal -- the first real increase in over 30 years.
  • Enhance funding for nutrition education in schools to support healthy eating and school wellness.
  • Promote stronger collaboration and sharing of nutrition education between child care programs and WIC programs.

Encourage public/partnerships in communities

  • Connect more children to healthy produce from local farms by helping communities establish local farm to school networks, establish school gardens and use more local foods in school cafeterias.
  • Leverage public and private partnerships to help reduce childhood hunger and promote community-wide strategies to improve child nutrition and wellness.

Improve food safety requirements for school meals programs

  • Ensure school meals are safe for all students by extending food safety requirements to all areas in which school food is stored, prepared, and served.
  • Support improved communication to speed notification of recalled school foods consistent with GAO recommendations.
  • Ensure all foodservice employees have access to food safety training to prevent and identify food borne illness such as through web-based training.

Streamline program administration and support program integrity

  • Increase efficiency, improve program administration, support services and program access and modernize the WIC program by extending period of certification for children, increasing support for breastfeeding, and transitioning from paper food vouchers to an electronic benefit program.
  • Strengthen School Meal program integrity and remove program silos in after school meal programs by simplifying program rules and affording schools greater flexibility for addressing program costs.


Original Source:


General Mills Foundation Helps Washington, D.C. Schools Combat Childhood Obesity

June 24, 2010, MarketWatch

The General Mills Foundation is helping wage a battle against the growing rate of childhood obesity in the nation’s capital by providing a $100,000 matching grant to support the United Way of the National Capital Area’s (UWNCA) Child Wellness Initiative.

The Initiative, a joint venture with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education and Mayor Adrian Fenty’s Commission on Food and Nutrition, promotes physical fitness and nutrition among youth in the Washington D.C. area, home to one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in the nation. In keeping with first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, these schools will be certified in the USDA’s Healthier U.S. School Challenge.

“Although the rates of childhood obesity are increasing at alarming rates, organizations like the UWNCA are mobilizing to face this challenge,” says Ellen Goldberg Luger, executive director of the General Mills Foundation. “The Child Wellness Initiative is creating fun and engaging ways to provide youth and their families with the tools they need to lead healthy, balanced and active lifestyles.”

The $100,000 General Mills Foundation matching grant is part of a $400,000 four-year partnership with the UWNCA to promote increased awareness of the importance of regular physical exercise and healthy eating habits among youth. This year’s co-grant with the UWNCA will provide a total of $200,000 to three D.C. area public schools and 10 public charter schools in the 2010-2011 school year.

This partnership represents one of the many child health commitments of the General Mills Foundation. The Foundation, in partnership with the American Dietetic Association, and the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, announced the 2010 recipients of $10,000 Champions for Healthy Kids grants. The grants, totaling $500,000, support 50 nonprofits, schools and community organizations across the United States in developing creative ways to help youth incorporate physical fitness and good nutrition into their daily lives. Since 2002, General Mills has invested $19.5 million in youth nutrition and fitness programs that have served more than 4.8 million children nationwide.

General Mills representatives were also on hand as first lady Michelle Obama announced the newly expanded Presidential Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, which now includes a focus on healthy eating as well as active lifestyles. General Mills has been a partner in this effort for eight years.

“This has been an extraordinary week for the General Mills Foundation as we recognize the great work being done at all levels to provide our youth with a healthy start in life,” says Goldberg Luger. “We are honored to be aligned with the Presidential Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, the UWNCA in Washington D.C., as well as the dozens of Champions for Healthy Kids projects being implemented by community organizations across the nation. This is important work which will yield healthy dividends for our children for years to come.”


Original Source:
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ general-mills-foundation-helps-washington-


President Bill Clinton Honors 179 U.S. Schools for Combating Childhood Obesity

June 15, 2020, PRNewswire-USNewswire

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, recognized 179 schools that have transformed their campuses into healthier places for students and staff. President Bill Clinton, American Heart Association Chairman Neil Meltzer, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President and CEO Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey presented awards during an event in New York City.

The 179 schools hail from across the country, though the cities of Atlanta; Birmingham, Ala.; Boston; Lincoln, Neb.; Los Angeles; Miami; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; and San Antonio all boast multiple awardees. Many of the schools have diverse student populations, and more than two-thirds are located in lower-income communities. Each has distinguished itself with healthy eating and physical activity programs and policies that meet or exceed stringent standards set by the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program.

“The 179 schools earning recognition today – the most in any year in the Alliance’s history – join the ranks of schools from all over the United States that have shown exemplary commitment to the health of their students and staff,” President Clinton said. “The Alliance is pleased to assist in these efforts in more than 9,000 schools in all 50 states to make innovative and healthy changes that will turn the tide on childhood obesity.”

Among the schools and healthy achievements honored today:

Memorial High School, in West New York, N.J., made sweeping changes to its cafeteria; increased physical activity for students and staff before, during and after the school day; and required that every student take health and physical education annually. Memorial is the first and only school to earn a Gold National Recognition Award from the Healthy Schools Program.

Bumpus Middle School, in Hoover, Ala., pulled deep-fat fryers and sports drinks out of its cafeteria and brought in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, water, and one-percent and nonfat milk.

Wilkerson Elementary School, in El Monte, Calif., provided physical education training for all classroom teachers regardless of their subject area expertise. School administrators supported this commitment with the purchase of new athletic equipment and encouraged teachers to make physical activity a part of every school day.

“Although the Healthy Schools Program aims to make all schools healthy, it has a special focus on communities most affected by the childhood obesity epidemic,” Lavizzo-Mourey said. “The celebrated successes show how much can be done from the cafeteria to the playground. At these schools, tough budget times and other challenges are no match for the commitment and creativity of administrators, teachers, parents and students.”

The Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program provides free assistance to more than 9,000 schools nationwide to help them reverse the national epidemic of childhood obesity. Schools are eligible for Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum National Recognition Awards as a result of implementing health-promoting programs. More than 350 National Recognition Awards have been presented to schools since 2006.

“There is no single cause and no single solution to the childhood obesity epidemic, which is why the Healthy Schools Program’s comprehensive approach to making substantive changes in the culture of a school is so critical to its success,” Meltzer noted.

In addition to the Healthy Schools Program, the Alliance brokers and implements voluntary agreements with industry leaders to provide young people better access to healthier foods, beverages, physical activity and health care. In March 2010, the Alliance announced the results of a three-year effort with the beverage industry to remove full-calorie soft drinks from U.S. schools and replace them with lower-calorie, smaller-portion beverages. That initiative helped to reduce calories from beverages shipped to schools by 88 percent from 2004 to fall 2009. Earlier this year, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation became a Founding Member of the Partnership for a Healthier America, the independent, nonpartisan organization created to support the goals of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign.

“It is clear that the momentum is building. In the past year, we have seen the Healthy Schools Program grow from 5,000 schools to more than 9,000,” said Ginny Ehrlich, executive director of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “ We hope that every person interested in making a difference in the health of a school will join our Healthy Schools Network and become eligible to be nationally recognized for their efforts in future years.”

The Healthy Schools Program is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Any U.S. school can enroll and receive free assistance and support to become a healthier place for students to learn and staff to work. Find out more at HealthierGeneration.org.


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Plans to Tackle Child Obesity in Jacksonville Focus on Social Policy Changes

June 23, 2010, The Florida Times-Union

By Deirdre Conner

Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions across the nation. Now, an initiative planned for Jacksonville and 70 other cities is aiming to stem that tide.

But - unlike many such wide-scale efforts - no new programs are planned.

The scale of the problem is so great that the initiative, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, specifically avoids the creation of new programs, which would only reach a relative handful of children.

Instead, the plan will focus on changing policies to make healthy food and physical activity more accessible. A special emphasis will be on the environment in Health Zone 1, which covers the urban areas north and west of downtown.

Overseen by the Duval County Health Department and known as Healthy Kids Healthy Jacksonville, the initiative was funded for four years at about $90,000 per year, said Lowrie Ward, interim director and program coordinator for Healthy Jacksonville.

Research is pointing to the need to change policies for the most significant impact.

“Programs matter on an individual level,” she said, “but on a policy scale, you can have broader impact.”

The numbers they report are sobering. Ward told a recent gathering at the Jacksonville Community Council that 70 percent of Duval County students score below average on the President’s Physical Fitness Assessment Test, and nearly one in four are overweight or obese.

Ward said the group is hoping for at least two major citywide policies and, ideally, a reduction in childhood obesity by the end of the four years, although the initiative could go on longer than that.

The prospective plans incorporate a variety of different ideas. Among them:

Access to healthy food

Low-cost fresh produce and other healthy foods are available at farmers markets. Yet there are few of them in low-income areas of the city. At some stalls at the Jacksonville Farmers Market on Beaver Street, food stamps (often known as SNAP or EBT cards) are now accepted. About one in eight residents of Duval County depend on food stamps.

According to the state Department of Children and Families, the cards were used on average nine times per day in the first six months of the program, which began in October. The initiative’s leaders hope to build on that success and increase the number of farmers markets while making sure they can accept SNAP cards and vouchers for another nutrition program for women, infants and children.

The outline also suggests partnerships with local farmers to provide affordable fresh produce to donate to the Second Harvest food bank.

Access to physical activity

Active living is a big part of the initiative, and among the changes sought is more access to public school facilities. Typically, school gymnasiums and playgrounds are locked after school hours unless rented to private nonprofit groups or other government agencies.

“Generally we keep our campuses secure,” said Paul Soares, chief of operations support for the Duval County school system.

There would be obstacles to such efforts, including the question of liability insurance, the added cost of maintenance, security and even some state laws.

But, Soares said, there are already facilities open for use during school and after-school hours, through joint use agreements between the school district and the city - that could serve as a model for future endeavors.

The Healthy Kids, Healthy Jacksonville leaders also would like to see the city have dedicated staff looking out for the concerns of pedestrians and bicyclists.

Policy changes

Among some of the changes sought by the initiative is a citywide policy that would make streets safer and more inviting for bicyclists and pedestrians. With Jacksonville recently ranked as the nation’s fourth-deadliest city for pedestrians, walking to school - or anywhere, for that matter - has become a dangerous and less-often used method of transportation.

Susan Cohn, a Jacksonville city planner, said the city is extremely interested in such efforts and is considering drafting either an ordinance or planning guidelines to encourage “contact sensitive and livable streets.”

“We are pursuing looking at something,” she said.

Also planned is a food policy council to make recommendations on how to increase access to healthy food, such as helping draft urban agriculture guidelines or helping draft public transit routes.


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Full Motion Beverage FMBV Obtains Exclusive Rights to Distribute Wat-aah!®

June 28, 2010, PRNewswire

Full Motion Beverage, Inc. announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Pure Water Solutions, Inc. (PWS) has entered into an exclusive agreement with Power Potions, LLC to distribute the Wat-aah!® brand of premium fortified water throughout Long Island, New York.

The Wat-aah!® brand was founded in New York City in 2008 by Rose and Jack Cameron as “the first water ‘cool’ enough” to draw kids away from soda and other sugar laden beverages - now under national scrutiny as a leading cause of childhood obesity and a gateway to diabetes. The Wat-aah!® brand mission is very clear – reverse kids’ dependency on sugary drinks and help fight childhood obesity and the onset of diabetes.

Christopher Mollica, President of Full Motion Beverage, Inc. stated, “Wat-aah!® is an important part of our diverse product line. The product is geared towards a younger audience compared to other water products and also offers us a shot at the high volume institutional market for beverages.”

For more information about Wat-aah!® visit: http://www.drinkwataah.com


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Emmy-Nominated Web series Aims to Halt Childhood Obesity

June 10, 2010, Vanderbilt News

Fizzy’s Lunch Lab—an interactive Web series out of Vanderbilt University with cartoon characters acting out funny stories to emphasize the importance of good nutrition, a balanced diet and physical activity–was nominated for a Daytime Entertainment Emmy Award.

Sharon Shields, Vanderbilt professor of the practice of human and organizational development; Heather Smith, assistant professor of the practice of human and organizational development; and Dianne Killebrew, an educational coordinator and specialist in the medical center’s dietetic internship department, are education consultants for the series. Dr. Craig Sussman, associate professor of clinical medicine, is the health and nutrition adviser.

Aimed at children aged 6 to 8, the series strives to encourage children and parents to spend more time in the kitchen and less time heading to the drive-through. The mission of the series is ambitious: to halt the childhood obesity epidemic.

Each week, the website releases a new animated short video along with a recipe for children and parents. Professor Fizzy and his friends get together in the Lunch Lab Test Kitchen to prepare healthy snacks, investigate the difference between good and bad food, and learn what happens once food enters the body.

Shields, Smith and Killebrew created the family and teacher lesson plans that accompany the Lunch Lab episodes. Executive producers for the animated series are Dave Schalafman and Evan Sussman, Craig Sussman’s son.

The show was nominated in the category of “new approaches to daytime children’s entertainment.” The awards announcement was made and awarded last month.

Fizzy’s Lunch Lab is produced by CloudKid Studios and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. To view the site, go to: http://pbskids.org/lunchlab/


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