Childhood Obesity Policy Update: October 29, 2013

    • October 29, 2013

Federal Policy

Farm Bill Conference Negotiations Set to Begin
The first meeting between Senate and House Farm bill conferees will take place tomorrow, with more than three dozen Members of Congress preparing an attempt to bridge divides over a reauthorization that has stalled since last year. One of the key focal points of the negotiation will be the fate of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): the Senate approved a Farm Bill in June that would cut SNAP by $4.1 billion over the next ten years, while the House passed legislation in September that would cut the program by $39 billion over the same time frame. Yesterday, thirty-eight Senators sent a letter to Farm Bill conferees urging them to protect SNAP funding.  

USDA Releases Results of Nationwide Farm to School Census
According to data released from the Department of Agriculture’s first ever Farm to School Census, 43 percent of school districts nationwide report having a farm to school program, with an additional 13 percent committing to develop one within the near future. During the 2011-2012 school year, USDA reports that approximately 38,000 schools serving 21 million students purchased and served more than $350 million in local food; more than half of participating schools indicated that they plan to purchase even more local foods in future school years. 


State and Local Policy

New Hampshire Launches School Breakfast Challenge
Education officials and public health advocates in New Hampshire launched a School Breakfast Challenge last week, a public-private partnership aimed at increasing school breakfast participation rates by 25 percent by the end of 2015. According to the state’s department of education, New Hampshire ranks last in the nation in free and reduced price school breakfast participation, with only 38 percent of students who receive free or reduced-price lunch also eating school breakfast. The campaign will include funding opportunities and awards for schools that increase breakfast participation rates.  

Alaska State Health Department to Examine Schools’ Physical Education, Recess Policies
Alaska’s State Health Department recently announced its intention to examine the physical education and recess policies of schools statewide and compare them to national standards for physical activity. Officials noted that there are currently no state requirements for physical education in elementary and middle schools, and no mandate for recess in elementary schools. A report is due in March 2014.      


From the Field

Report Examines Kids’ Soda Consumption in California
Sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption has dropped “dramatically” among young children in California but has “spiked alarmingly” among teens, according to a recent report from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA). Researchers found that the percentage of children under 12 years old who have at least one SSB daily has declined by roughly 10 percent since 2005, while adolescents ages 12-17 increased their SSB by eight percent over the same timeframe. Dr. Harold Goldstein, CCPHA’s executive director, suggests that one reason for the spike among adolescents is that teens are “an ideal target for beverage companies that spend hundreds of millions of dollars marketing sugary drinks to them.”

Health Foundation Launches Ad Campaign Promoting Healthy Beverages
A new television advertisement campaign launched by the non-profit Horizon Foundation in Howard County, Maryland, is urging the beverage industry to “invest in the long-term health of their customers by promoting their better, healthier beverages.” The ads produced by the $40,000 campaign—which will air on cable and broadcast networks throughout the Baltimore region through November—are meant to parody ads promoting Coca-Cola.


Upcoming Events

Addressing Obesity through Community Benefit Activities: Assessing Needs and Determining Impact
October 31, 2013
10:00 – 11:30 AM ET
Washington, D.C.
Sponsored by the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance, this event will explore ways in which new community benefit reporting requirements for nonprofit hospitals may be used to address obesity. Register for the event.

Food Policy Councils:  Recipes for Success from the Local, County, and State Levels
October 31, 2013
2:00 – 3:15 PM ET
Sponsored by the Institute for Public Health Innovation, this webinar will share perspectives on Food Policy Councils from elected officials and community members who have served on them. Register for the webinar.

Engaging School Administrators in the Shared Use of School Facilities to Increase Physical Activity Opportunities for Kids
November 7, 2013
2:00 – 3:00 PM ET
Hosted by the Safe Routes to School Partnership, this webinar will provide resources for sharing the principles of shared use agreements with school board members, administrators and principals. Register for the webinar.