Childhood Obesity Policy Update: October 1, 2013

    • October 1, 2013

Federal Policy

Government Shuts Down; Effect on Federal Nutrition Programs Mixed
The federal government shut down at midnight following the expiration of a continuing resolution, with Congress and the Administration unable to reach a new funding agreement at the start of the 2014 fiscal year. The effect of the shutdown on federal nutrition programs varies; according to the Department of Agriculture, federal funding will continue for school meals and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, but will cease for the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

USDA Report: Vast Majority of Schools Continue in School Meals Program
More than 99 percent of 100,000 schools remained enrolled in the federal school meals program following the implementation of updated nutrition standards, according to a report released yesterday by the Department of Agriculture. The USDA also found that of the 524 schools leaving the program, only 90 cited school meals rules as the specific cause—approximately one-fifth of one percent of schools enrolled last year.   

Final Menu Labeling Rule Again Delayed
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has once again missed its own deadline for issuing a final rule establishing menu labeling requirements for certain chain restaurants and other food retail establishments. According to its most recent regulatory guidance, FDA was anticipating releasing the final rule in September; according to a recent report, however, “the regulation is still in development at the FDA, and will soon be sent to the White House for a final review.”  

State and Local Policy

New York State Policymakers Push Obesity Legislation Package
New York State Senator Jeff Klein (D) and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo (D) are pushing for passage of three bills aimed at reducing the obesity epidemic in the Bronx, which has the highest obesity levels in New York. The bills aim to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables in underserved communities (S.2438/A.06628), expand health and wellness education programs (S.2439/A.02893), and promote community gardens (S.2372/A.03743). According to a report, the legislators hope to secure passage of the bills by spring 2014.  

From the Field

Report: 94 Percent of Schools Expected to Meet Nutrition Standards
Ninety-four percent of U.S. school districts expected to meet updated nutrition standards for school lunch by the end of the 2012-13 school year, according to a report released today by the Kids’ Safe & Healthful Foods Project. However, the report also reveals that schools could serve healthier meals more effectively and efficiently with better equipment, infrastructure, and staff training. Also yesterday, President Bill Clinton and the Healthy Schools Program honored 267 schools for creating healthier environments for students and staff. All of the schools receiving awards, and thousands more participating in the program, already meet or exceed the updated school meal standards.

McDonald’s Announces Updated Nutrition Standards for Marketing
Following an agreement signed with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, McDonald’s announced its intentions last week to no longer market some of its less nutritious offerings to children in 20 of the company’s largest markets which represent more than 85 percent of global sales.  McDonald’s committed specifically to providing customers with a choice of a salad, fruit, or vegetable instead of French fries in its value meals; promoting only water, juice, or milk as a Happy Meal beverage on menu boards and in-store and external advertisements; and ensuring that 100 percent of children-directed marketing includes a “fun” nutrition or well-being message. According to the company, “all pieces of this commitment will be implemented in 30-50 percent of the 20 major markets within three years and 100 percent of the 20 markets by 2020.”    

Upcoming Events

Multicultural Community Engagement: Putting Childhood Obesity Prevention Strategies to Work in Diverse Communities 
October 2, 2013
2:00 – 3:00 PM ET
Sponsored by Leadership for Healthy Communities, this webinar will explore strategies local governments can utilize to prevent childhood obesity in communities of color. Register for the webinar.

Creating Effective Partnerships to End Childhood Obesity
October 7, 2013
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM ET
Albany, NY
Sponsored by the New York State Public Health Association, this conference will feature evidence-based programs and policies that have been developed by primary care representatives and public health organizations to prevent and treat obesity on the local level. Register for the workshop.

Teaching Nutrition and Physical Activity in Medical School: Training Doctors for Prevention-Oriented Care
October 17, 2013
9:00 AM – 2:30 PM ET
Washington, D.C.
Sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the American College of Sports Medicine, this conference will highlight innovative approaches taken by medical schools to increase nutrition and physical activity training. Register for the conference