Childhood Obesity Policy Update: September 3, 2013

    • September 3, 2013

Federal Policy

White House Proclamation Marks National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month
On August 30, President Barack Obama signed a proclamation designating September 2013 as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. The proclamation notes that obesity rates “are holding steady and even decreasing in some areas,” and references a number of childhood obesity reduction initiatives in the Affordable Care Act, including Community Transformation Grants and provisions establishing no-cost obesity counseling and screening.  

USDA Seeking Public Comment for Improving SNAP Program Integrity
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently published a Request for Information and announced a series of public forums focusing on ways to improve access to healthy foods for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants and address overall program integrity. Specifically, USDA is looking to gather feedback on strengthening stocking standards and requirements for authorized SNAP retailers. The comment period is open through October 20.

House Bill Seeks to Expand Food Incentive Programs
Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., announced his intention to introduce the Local Food for Healthy Families Act later this month, a bill that would provide an additional $5 million a year for healthy food incentive programs to encourage the consumption of locally-grown produce among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients. A recent evaluation of one such program in Michigan, known as Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB), found that it reached more than 13,000 SNAP beneficiaries in 2012, resulting in $1.9 million in combined sales from SNAP and DUFB for more than 700 farmers statewide

State and Local Policy

Illinois Board of Education Releases Physical Education Report
Increasing physical activity during the school day “is a critical and attainable way to improve student health and academic outcomes in the near term,” according to a report released by the Illinois Enhance Physical Education Task Force. The task force report concludes that new approaches to physical education—such as increasing the amount of moderate-to-vigorous time spent during physical education classes and integrating physical activity throughout the school day—could reap additional health and academic benefits for students. Full implementation of new physical education standards statewide is expected by the 2015-2016 school year. 

San Jose City Council Rejects Sugary Beverage Prohibition
A proposal to prohibit the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages at certain city facilities in San Jose, California, was defeated by a city council committee last week. City councilman Ash Kalra (D), who sponsored the proposal, likened it to legislation enacted in 2009 that removed sodas from public schools statewide and a recent move by Santa Clara County to prohibit the serving of sugary drinks at county-funded meetings or events. 

From the Field

Fast-Food Television Ads Use Toys, Movies to Target Kids
Fast-food companies emphasize toy giveaways and movie tie-ins when marketing to kids on television, which suggests industry is not abiding by its own pledges regarding child-directed marketing, according to a study from Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  Researchers examined all nationally televised ads for children’s meals by leading fast-food restaurants over a one-year period; compared with fast-food ads for adults, ads targeting kids emphasized branding, and the food images were smaller. According to lead study author James Sargent, ““these are techniques that the companies’ own self-regulatory body calls potentially misleading.”

UnitedHealth Group Releases Obesity Prevention Report 
According to a report released last week by UnitedHealth Group, behavioral intervention programs that reduce rates of childhood obesity by five percentage points over five years could reduce the number of obese and overweight children by roughly 10 million and the number of obese adults by 2 million by 2023. The report—which also endorses expanding prenatal support for pregnant women and broadening care coordination in Medicaid to prevent obesity and improve children’s health outcomes—estimates that such interventions would reduce associated health care costs by more than $25 billion within the next ten years. 

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

Authentic Middle School Youth Engagement in Safe Routes to School
September 5, 2013
2:00 – 3:00 PM ET
Hosted by the Safe Routes to School Partnership, this webinar will examine programs and practices that have effectively engaged youth in active transportation efforts around their schools. Register for the webinar.

National School Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in Schools
September 5, 2013
2:00 – 3:00 PM ET
Hosted by the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity, this webinar will examine the “Smart Snacks in School” interim final rule and discuss next steps towards implementation. Register for the webinar. 

Enhancing Food Retail Store Eligibility
September 9, 2013
4:00-7:00 PM ET
Enoch Pratt Central Library 400 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201
Hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this public forum seeks input on requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program (SNAP) retailers and feedback on USDA’s efforts to improve SNAP recipients’ access to healthy foods. Contact: Margarita Maisterrena (609) 259-5091. 

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