Childhood Obesity Policy Update: July 30, 2013

    • July 30, 2013

Federal Policy

USDA Announces Results of Healthy Incentives Pilot for SNAP Purchases

An investment of less than 15 cents per person per day may result in a 25 percent increase in fruit and vegetable consumption among adults, according to the results of the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Healthy Incentives Pilot released last week. The 13-month program provided a group of families receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits with 30 cents for every dollar spent on certain fruits and vegetables, which could then be used to purchase any SNAP covered item. Among participating beneficiaries, more than 70 percent reported that the program made fruits and vegetables more affordable.   

Senate Amendment Would Eliminate Transportation Alternatives Funding

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., introduced an amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill (S.1243) last week that would eliminate funding for Transportation Alternatives—a Department of Transportation program that supports local walking and biking projects—and redirect the $800 million in authorized funding to bridge repair. The Senate is continuing debate on the bill this week. 

House Bill Would End Tax Deduction for Companies Marketing Unhealthy Food to Kids

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., introduced a bill last week (H.R.2831) that would prevent companies that market unhealthy foods to children from receiving a tax deduction for the advertisements. The bill would define unhealthy foods as those being inconsistent with the federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In a statement, Rep. Delauro said that “taxpayers should not continue to subsidize a tax loophole that allows companies to deduct expenses for marketing unhealthy foods to kids.”


State and Local Policy

NYC Announces Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program

Health officials in New York City launched the Fruit and Vegetable “Prescription Program” last week, a pilot initiative under which doctors and nutritionists at city hospitals assess the dietary habits of their patients and issue fruit and vegetable “prescriptions” for those at risk of obesity. The prescriptions take the form of $2 coupons known as Health Bucks that can be used at city farmers’ markets. Officials estimate that the coupons will make more than $560,000 worth of produce available to low-income residents this year.  

Texas Comptroller Announced Obesity Prevention Partnership with State Libraries

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs announced a partnership earlier this month with the Texas Library Association to provide 1,100 public elementary schools and all public libraries statewide with nutrition and physical activity resources. The Comptroller’s office will distribute more than 15,000 books and DVDs to public libraries as well as supply sports equipment to schools whose students have been identified as high risk for becoming obese.


From the Field

Report Finds Fruits and Vegetables More Affordable than Packaged Goods

A report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) released last week found that the price per serving for fruits and vegetables is often less than other, less healthful snacks and side dishes. CSPI determined that the average price per serving of fruit or vegetable snacks ($0.34) was nearly half as much as the less healthy snacks ($0.67) analyzed in the study. A 2011 USDA report found that it cost $2.00 to $2.50 per day for an average adult to purchase the recommended daily amounts of fruits and vegetables.

Long-Term Obesity among Youth Increases Heart Disease Risk

The risk of coronary artery calcification—a heart disease predictor—doubles among youth who remain obese for more than two decades, according to a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association. Researchers found that every year of obesity translates to a 2 to 4 percent increased risk of coronary artery calcification—nearly 40 percent of those who were obese for more than 20 years develop the condition, compared to 25 percent who were never obese. 


Upcoming Events

Energy Drinks: Exploring Concerns about Marketing to Youth

July 31, 2013

2:30 PM ET

253 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will hold a hearing to examine questions about potential health risks associated with energy drink consumption by children and teenagers and the extent and nature of energy drink marketing initiatives that are reaching this audience. Witnesses include Jennifer Harris, PhD, MBA, Director of Marketing Initiatives at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. View the live webcast here.


Evaluating Obesity Prevention Efforts: A Plan for Measuring Progress

August 2, 2013

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM ET

The Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board will hold a webinar on a proposed actionable national-level plan for measuring progress of obesity prevention efforts. Register for the webinar.


Findings from Hunger in our Schools: Teachers Report 2013

August 7, 2013

1:00 – 2:00 PM ET

The Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign is hosting a webinar to feature findings from their annual survey of teachers and their perspective on hunger and its impact on students. Register for the webinar.


Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior Annual Conference

August 9-12, 2013

Portland, Ore.

The Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior will allow nutrition education professionals to meet and learn from nutritionists from extension, public health, government, academia, industry, and community settings. Register for the conference.