Childhood Obesity Policy Update: September 10, 2013

    • September 10, 2013

Federal Policy

USDA: Food Insecurity Remains High in United States
An estimated 17.6 million households, or 14.5 percent of all households in the United States, were food insecure at some point in 2012—meaning they lacked access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members, according to a report released last week by the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service.  The report noted that 3.9 million of these food insecure households included children. Rates of food insecurity have remained consistent in the United States since 2008.

Former Ag Secretaries to Congress: Support Federal Nutrition Programs
In a commentary published in today’s Health Affairs, former Department of Agriculture Secretaries Dan Glickman and Ann Veneman called on Congress to “repair the disconnect” that exists between federal agriculture policy and efforts to promote healthy dietary choices. The two former secretaries, co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative, said that the Farm Bill provides an important opportunity for Congress to “couple continued support for [federal nutrition programs like SNAP] with increased efforts to align nutrition program guidelines and incentives with federal dietary guidelines.”  

State and Local Policy

South Carolina Reiterates SNAP Wavier Request
The South Carolina Department of Social Services reiterated its upcoming request for a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that would restrict the purchases of unhealthy foods and beverages by the program’s beneficiaries. In a response to USDA’s recent Request for Information on ways to improve access to healthy foods for SNAP participants, Catherine Templeton, director of the state’s health department, wrote that “a waiver from federal rules to refocus SNAP on nutrition can address the health of our families, while honoring our commitment to assist those in need and strengthen American agriculture.”

Boston Public Schools Makes Breakfast, Lunch Free for All Children
The Boston Public Schools (BPS) announced last week that it will offer free breakfast and lunch to all students regardless of income status in the 2013-2014 school year. By joining the Community Eligibility Option—which allows schools with high percentages of low-income children to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students—BPS officials estimate a savings of $450 per family as well as an additional $2.7 million in federal meal revenue for the school district thanks to increased reimbursements.  

DC Parents Push to Reinstitute Recess
In response to a little-noticed budget provision that decreased recess time for Washington, D.C., elementary school students this school year, a group of concerned parents successfully persuaded school officials to issue new guidance that increases the minimum recess time to 20 minutes and allows individual principals to add additional amounts.  The 20-minute minimum aligns with the standards set forth in the D.C. schools wellness policy; starting in the fall of 2014, D.C. elementary schools will be required to offer at least 150 minutes of physical education per week. 

From the Field

RWJF Compiles Latest Research on Food Marketing to Children
A new website from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation compiles the latest research on food and beverage marketing to children, showcasing reports that examine marketing practices, expenditures, and companies’ self-regulation efforts. The page also highlights a commentary published in this month’s Health Affairs from Bill Dietz—former director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—that analyzes past efforts to limit unhealthy food and beverage marketing to young people and provides several recommendations for how to limit such marketing in the future.

NACCHO, Health Departments Push for Final Menu Labeling Standards
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and 65 local public health departments sent a letter to White House last week calling for “a strong and comprehensive federal menu labeling rule…as soon as possible.” The NACCHO letter urges that the final rule cover “the full range of chain establishments” that serve prepared food, including restaurants, movie theaters, supermarkets, convenience stores, sporting venues, and hotels. Per its latest regulatory outlook, the Food and Drug Administration indicated it expected to release a final menu labeling rule this month, though final standards have been delayed on several previous occasions. 

Upcoming Events

Congressional Briefing: F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future
September 12, 2013
9:30 – 11:00 AM ET
Senate Side, SVC212-10
United States Capitol Visitor Center 

The Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will host a briefing to discuss F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2013, a report that contains the latest data on obesity trends and state-by-state adult obesity rates. Register for the briefing.

Scheduled Speakers:

  • Jeffrey Levi, Ph.D., Executive Director, Trust for America’s Health
  • James S. Marks, M.D., M.P.H., Director, Health Group, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • The Honorable Toby Barker, Mississippi House of Representatives, (R-District 102)
  • Lisa M. Harrison, Health Director, Granville-Vance District Health Department, North Carolina

Showcasing Farm to School at Events: Tools for Success
September 10, 2013
12:00 – 12:20 PM ET
Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this webinar will provide resources and strategies for showcasing farm to school at local or statewide events. Register for the webinar.

Ready for Recess: Changing Policy and Practice to Support Students' Physical Activity
September 10, 2013
1:00 – 2:00 PM ET
Hosted by Active Living Research, Public Health Institute, and Ready for Recess, this two-part webinar series is designed to promote more physically active recess in schools. Part one is intended for school administrators, school wellness coordinators, and parents. Register for the webinar.

Preventing and Treating Obesity in the Primary Care Setting
September 15, 2013
12:30 – 2:00 PM ET
2168 Rayburn House Office Building
Hosted by the Campaign to End Obesity, this briefing will review the science behind obesity and discuss challenges faced by primary care physicians. Register for the briefing.

Ready for Recess: Changing Policy and Practice to Support Students' Physical Activity
September 17, 2013
1:00 – 2:00 PM ET
Active Living Research, Public Health Institute, and Ready for Recess will be hosting a two part webinar series designed to promote more physically active recess in schools. Part two is intended for teachers and other school staff who are directly involved with leading recess activities. Register for the webinar