Childhood Obesity Policy Update: September 24, 2013

    • September 24, 2013

Federal Policy

House Narrowly Approves $39 Billion Cut to SNAP
In a 217-210 vote, the House of Representatives approved a bill last week that would cut $39 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over the next ten years. The bill—which is subject to a White House veto threat and is not expected to be taken up by the Senate—portends an uncertain future for SNAP and other federal nutrition programs as Congress attempts to reach a compromise on a new federal Farm Bill. The current Farm Bill expires on September 30th.

First Lady Convenes Food Marketing Summit
First Lady Michelle Obama convened a food marketing summit at the White House last week, where she encouraged food and beverage companies to limit the marketing of healthy foods and increase the marketing of “foods with real nutritional value.”  According to a July 2013 study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, nearly three quarters of food advertisements aimed at children use a familiar character and 72 percent of those advertisements promote foods with poor nutritional quality

Bill Seeks to Standardize Food Labeling Rules
Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr., D-NJ, and Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., introduced a bill last week that aims to standardize nutrition information on food labeling. The Food Labeling Modernization Act (H.R.3147) would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a single, standard front of package nutrition labeling system for all food products required to bear nutrition labeling; the bill would also establish new guidelines for the use of terms such as “healthy” or “made with whole grain,” and require the listing of percent daily values for calories and sugar. A companion bill will be introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. 

State and Local Policy

Mandatory Physical Education Proposed for Idaho High Schools
A recent proposal from the Idaho Department of Education would establish minimum time requirements for physical education in elementary and middle school, and would make physical education a graduation requirement for all Idaho high school students. According to officials, high school students could meet the requirement by taking physical education courses during the school day or participating in approved afterschool sports or activities. The proposal has received preliminary approval from the state board of education; if approved by the board for a final time in November, the proposal will go before the state legislature in January 2014.

Wisconsin Bill Would Establish Physical Activity Requirements for Schools
Wisconsin state Rep. Chad Weininger (R) announced plans to introduce legislation that would require Wisconsin school districts to provide 30 minutes of physical activity daily for elementary school students and 45 minutes of physical activity daily for middle school students statewide. Rep. Weininger said the bill will likely include flexibility for schools to decide how to incorporate physical activity without adding or eliminating class time.   

From the Field

Cartoon Network, Ferrero USA Pledge to Limit Food Marketing to Kids
The Cartoon Network announced last week that it would license its characters only to food companies meeting the nutrition standards for food marketing to kids established by the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), a volunteer industry self-regulating effort that promotes baseline standards for food marketing to young children. In a related statement, Ferrero USA announced that it would be the 18th company to join the CFBAI, which launched in 2006. Both announcements were made at the food marketing summit hosted at the White House by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Study Examines Healthier Purchases by WIC Beneficiaries
A study from the Yale Rudd Center on Food Policy & Obesity shows that purchases of whole grain bread and brown rice increased among beneficiaries of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) program following updates to the nutrition standards for the WIC food package that took effect in 2009. The study finds that that whole grain bread purchases tripled from eight percent to 24 percent of total bread purchases made between 2009 and 2011, while brown rice rose to 30 percent of total rice sales. According to lead author Tatiana Andreyeva, the study shows that the updated nutrition standards were “successful and necessary.” 

Upcoming Events

How to Make the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice for Students this School Year
September 25, 2013
3:00 – 4:00 PM ET
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is hosting a tweetchat to discuss the new school meal standards that were prompted by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. Follow the discussion using the hashtag #HealthierNextGen.

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.

Multicultural Community Engagement: Putting Childhood Obesity Prevention Strategies to Work in Diverse Communities 
October 2, 2013
2:00 – 3:00 PM ET
Sponsored by Leadership for Healthy Communities, this webinar will explore strategies local governments can utilize to prevent childhood obesity in communities of color. Register for the webinar