Childhood Obesity Policy Update: September 17, 2013

    • September 17, 2013

Federal Policy

House Republicans Unveil Bill Cutting $40 Billion from SNAP
House Republican leadership introduced legislation yesterday that would cut approximately $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over the next ten years, double the amount of cuts proposed in a Farm Bill that was rejected by the House of Representatives in June. A final vote on the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act (H.R.3102) is expected by the end of the week. According to Feeding America, “four to six million individuals would lose their SNAP benefits entirely, 850,000 households would lose an average $90 per month in SNAP benefits, and 210,000 children would lose free school meals” under the proposed legislation.

House Bill Seeks to Improve Nutrition Content of SNAP Purchases
Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., introduced a bill last week (H.R.3073) that would align food purchasing standards under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program with those found in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. The WIC food package was updated in 2009 to reflect nutrition recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine; a report last month from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that obesity rates among preschool children from low-income families enrolled in program such as WIC declined in 18 states and one U.S. territory.   

State and Local Policy

CA Governor Signs Bill to Restrict Soda Purchases with SNAP Benefits 
California Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill last week that would prohibit Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries from using benefits to purchase sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) containing more than 10 calories per cup. The state would be required to obtain a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture before enforcing the provision.

‘Kick the Can Telluride’ Launches Soda Tax Campaign
Citizens behind a ballot measure that would impose a penny-per-ounce excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in Telluride, Colorado launched ‘Kick the Can Telluride’ last week, a campaign aimed at educating citizens about and building support for the measure that will be before voters on November 5.  Revenue from the proposed tax—an estimated $200,000-$400,000 annually– would primarily fund scholarships, after-school activities, and gardening programs. 

From the Field

Obesity Rates Among U.S. Teens Leveling off
According to a report published yesterday in the journal Pediatrics, the number of obese teens leveled off and the rate of overweight teens dropped slightly between 2005-06 and 2009-10, though overall rates remained higher for each than they were in 2001-02. The study—which covered more than 34,000 adolescents in grades 6 through 10—noted that teens reported eating more fruits and vegetables, consuming fewer sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages, and spent less time watching TV during the later timeframe, with the highest levels of healthy eating and physical activity being reported by younger children. 

Study: Physical Activity Can Help Improve Children’s Memory
Physical fitness can boost children’s ability to learn and retain information, according to a study published last week in PLOS One. Researchers tasked a group of 9- and 10-year -old children with learning and memorizing regions of fictitious maps;  the study found that the most physically fit children outperformed their lesser fit counterparts, particularly on the memorization component.  According to researchers, “higher levels of fitness have their greatest impact in the most challenging situations.”

AHA: Five Percent of U.S. Kids, Teens are Severely Obese
Roughly five percent of U.S. children and teens are “severely obese,” according to a scientific statement published last week by the American Heart Association. The newly-defined class of risk refers to children if they either have a body mass index (BMI) that’s at least 20 percent higher than the 95th percentile for their gender and age, or a BMI score of 35 or higher.  Researchers noted that severe obesity has “grave consequences,” including higher rates of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular issues at younger ages.

Upcoming Events

Ready for Recess: Changing Policy and Practice to Support Students' Physical Activity
September 17, 2013
1:00 – 2:00 PM ET

Sponsored by Active Living Research, Public Health Institute, and Ready for Recess, the conclusion to this two-part webinar series on active recess is intended for teachers and other school staff who are directly involved with leading recess activities. Register for the webinar.

Washington Post Live: Childhood Obesity Summit
September 20, 2013
9:00 AM – 2:00 PM ET
Washington, D.C.

Sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this Washington Post event will feature a gathering of experts from around the country to discuss strategies for reducing the childhood obesity epidemic. Watch the live webcast on Friday.

Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School
September 26, 2013
2:00 – 3:00 PM ET

Sponsored by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, this webinar will provide information on a recent IOM report examining physical education in schools.  Register for the webinar.

Voices for Healthy Kids: Active Places Let’s Get Moving to Help Underserved Communities
September 26, 2013
2:00 – 3:00 PM ET

Sponsored by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, this webinar will present information on increasing physical activity opportunities in underserved communities with a specific focus on reducing disparities. Register for the webinar.