Childhood Obesity Policy Update: July 23, 2013

    • July 23, 2013


House Passes ESEA Reauthorization
In a 221-207 vote last week, the House of Representatives passed the Student Success Act, legislation that would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Among a host of proposed changes to the current law, the bill would eliminate more than 70 federal education programs, including the Carol M. White Physical Education ProgramBy contrast, the ESEA reauthorization passed by the Senate HELP Committee last month would include the full set of physical education and activity provisions from the FIT Kids Act. In a statement, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chair of the HELP Committee, said “there are significant differences” between the House and Senate bills that need to be reconciled, but that he is “looking forward to completing work on a full reauthorization.”

Farm Bill Conference Committee Likely Delayed
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said last week that House Republican divisions over legislation to reauthorize the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program would likely delay a Farm Bill conference committee from beginning work prior to the August recess. The Farm Bill passed by the House earlier this month was stripped of its nutrition title prior to passage; Senate Democratic leaders have indicated that a final Farm Bill must include those provisions.   

Senators Call on USDA to Restrict Unhealthy Food Purchases with SNAP Benefits
In a letter to Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack, Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., called on USDA to use its regulatory authority to institute and evaluate two demonstration programs that would restrict the purchases of unhealthy food and beverages with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. The Senators wrote that it would be “prudent” for USDA to test the efficacy of such programs “given the individual and societal impacts associated with poor diet, as well as the disproportionate effect on low-income persons.”

State and Local

Preemption Legislation Enacted in North Carolina
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (R) signed legislation last week that prohibits local governments in the state from limiting the size of sodas. The “preemption” law also limits the liability of food manufacturers for obesity and other health problems that may have arisen from the long-term consumption of their products.

Mayor Bloomberg Urges City Agencies to Promote Use of Stairs 
Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) issued an executive order last week requiring city agencies to promote the use of stairways in buildings and use smart design strategies in renovations and new construction.  In addition to the executive order, Mayor Bloomberg proposed two pieces of legislation aimed at increasing access and visibility to at least one staircase in all new buildings citywide. New York City recently reported a 5.5 percent decline in childhood obesity for grades K-8.


From the Field

Voices for Healthy Kids Announces Team of Experts to Reduce Obesity
During its “Signs of Progress” event last month, Voices for Healthy Kids—a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association working to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic—announced a team of partners that will lead six advocacy campaigns nationwide:

Study: High Blood Pressure Risk Increases among American Children
The proportion of children ages 8-17 with high blood pressure ages has risen 27 percent over the past 13 years, according to a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health.  The research positively links rising blood pressure to increasing body mass index and sodium intake, and found that that vast majority of children exceed the recommended daily intake for total fat, saturated fat, and sodium.  



Upcoming Events


National School Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in Schools
July 24, 2013
2:00 - 3:30 PM ET
The National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity will be hosting a webinar to familiarize participants with the new USDA “Smart Snacks in School” interim final rule, discuss next steps towards implementation, and hear from a school district that is already providing healthy choices for students. Register for the webinar.


Measuring Policy and Environmental Change in Obesity Prevention

July 24, 2013

2:00 - 3:30 PM ET


Hosted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this webinar explores the state of the science in measuring policy and environmental change in obesity prevention. Register for webinar.


Marketing Matters: How Local Governments Can Address Food Marketing to Children

July 25, 2013

2:00 – 3:00 ET


Sponsored by Leadership for Healthy Communities, this webinar will provide an overview of the role local governments can play to effectively reduce the marketing of unhealthful foods and beverages to children. Register for the webinar.


Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior Annual Conference

August 9-12, 2013

Portland, OR


The Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior will bring nutrition education professionals together to promote effective nutrition education and healthy behavior. Register for the conference.