Childhood Obesity Policy Update: August 13, 2013

    • August 13, 2013

Federal Policy

FDA Targets September Release for Final Menu Labeling Regulations
In its most recent regulatory outlook, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its intention to finalize proposed menu labeling standards for restaurants and vending machines in September.  First proposed in April 2011—per a provision in the Affordable Care Act—the regulations would require certain chain restaurants and other food retailers to disclose calorie information on menus and menu boards. Final standards have been delayed on several previous occasions.

Senators Introduce Bill to Score Prevention Savings
Senators Ben Cardin, D-Md., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Angus King, I-Maine, introduced legislation (S.1422) earlier this month that would direct the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to provide cost-savings estimates for prevention and wellness programs for up to 30 years, triple the CBO’s traditional 10-year budget window. A House companion bill (H.R.2663) was introduced by Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, earlier this year. In April, the Campaign to End Obesity released The Long-Term Returns of Obesity Prevention Programs, a report from economist Alex Brill that uses a lifetime scoring window (75 years) to identify billions of dollars in potential savings that may be attributable to specific obesity-prevention policies.

USDA Report: SNAP Improves Food Security
Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is associated with improved rates of food insecurity, according to a report released last week by the Department of Agriculture. The study found food insecurity decreased between five and 10 percent among participants enrolled in SNAP for six months, with some of the largest decreases seen in households with food insecure children. 

State and Local Policy

Healthier Vending Standards Begin This Year for Maryland School District
Under a new policy aimed at limiting the sale of unhealthy snacks to students, vending machines in Montgomery County, MD, schools will remain off for 30 minutes after classes end for the day beginning in the 2013-2014 school year. The policy will apply to vending machines containing foods that do not meet the district’s wellness guidelines. Similar requirements are included in updated nutrition standards for school snack foods finalized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture last month, which take effect nationwide beginning with the 2014-2015 school year.

Telluride Town Council Sends Soda Tax Proposal to Voters
In a 5-2 vote last week, the town council of Telluride, Colorado formally agreed to a ballot measure that—if approved by voters in November—would impose a penny-per-ounce excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages sold locally.  Projected to raise an estimated $200,000-$400,000 annually, the revenue would fund scholarships, after-school activities, and gardening programs.

From the Field

Report Examines Effects of Scheduled Cuts to SNAP Benefits
A report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has found that under the scheduled expiration of a temporary increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs benefits, the average family of three will lose $29 per month.  CBPP’s analysis also noted that the total size of the cut to the program overall will be $5 billion for 2014 and $6 billion for both 2015 and 2016. The temporary benefit increase was enacted per a provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and will expire on November 1, 2013.   

Daily Soda Consumption Tied to Obesity in Four and Five-Year-Olds
Four- and five-year-olds who drink at least one sugar-sweetened beverage (SSBs) per day are 43 percent more likely to be overweight or obese than their peers who drink them less frequently or not at all, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers also found that children who drink at least one SSB per day were more likely to have an overweight mother and to watch at least two hours of TV each day. 

Upcoming Events

Zoning for the Public's Health: Using Mixed-Use Zoning to Increase Walkability and Reduce Crime
August 15, 2013
1:00 – 2:00 PM ET
Sponsored by Public Health Law and Active Living Research, this webinar will share the latest research that supports neighborhood design as a means to reduce crime and increase neighborhood walkability. Register for the webinar.

Health and the Built Environment: What Makes a Healthy Environment?
August 21, 2013
1:00 – 2:00 PM ET
Sponsored by Reporting On Health, this webinar will explore the links between health and the physical environment, including access to healthy food and safe places to play. Register for the webinar.

National School Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in Schools
September 5, 2013
2:00 – 3:00 PM ET
The National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity will host a webinar to examine the “Smart Snacks in School” interim final rule, discuss next steps towards implementation, and hear from a school district in Ohio that is already providing healthy choices for students. Register for the webinar