Childhood Obesity Policy Update: November 12, 2013

    • November 12, 2013

Federal Policy

Final Menu Labeling Rule Expected “Soon”
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said last week that the agency would be issuing final menu labeling rules “soon” for restaurants, vending machines and other retail food establishments per the Affordable Care Act, following a process that was “more complicated” than the agency originally envisioned. According to a report, the agency is still reviewing the more than 900 comments received on the proposed rules first published in 2011.  


State and Local Policy

School Nutrition Policies in Michigan Show Results
Middle-school students in Michigan ate more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains following the implementation of healthier school nutrition policies and practices, according to a study published yesterday in Childhood Obesity. Students showed the largest dietary improvements when their schools introduced lunchtime snack food and beverage options that were entirely or almost entirely healthy; students in schools that started a healthy lunchtime à la carte or vending program boosted their consumption of fruit by 26 percent, vegetables by 14 percent, and whole grains by 30 percent.

Telluride Voters Reject Soda Tax
By an approximately two-to-one margin, voters in Telluride, Colorado, rejected a ballot measure last week that would have imposed a penny-per-ounce excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The final vote tally was similar to two California ballot initiatives last year; voters in San Francisco may have the opportunity to vote on a two cents-per-ounce tax in 2014.

Austin, Texas, Considering Restrictions on Fast Food Establishments
The Austin, Texas, city council is considering a resolution that would “restrict fast-food restaurants from locating near areas that children frequent,” including schools, parks, child care centers, and libraries. The resolution—which would only cover establishments built following passage—would also provide incentives for local convenience stores to carry healthier items. 


From the Field

Good Sidewalks = More Physical Activity
Improved sidewalk conditions lead to more physical activity, according to a study in the Journal of Public Health. Researchers from the University Of Michigan School of Public Health found that “better sidewalk condition was associated with increases in physical activity among women and men of varying socioeconomic statuses,” and recommended that cities implement policies to keep them in good condition to facilitate residents' physical activity.   

Study: Poverty, Race Associated with Supermarket Access
A study published in Preventative Medicine finds that poor neighborhoods with high African-American populations experience a “double disadvantage” with respect to race and class when it comes to supermarket access, with such neighborhoods having fewer supermarkets than both wealthier African-American neighborhoods and poor White neighborhoods. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University who conducted the study recommend that strategies to improve healthy food access should be targeted at disadvantaged urban areas. 

Telemedicine Effective at Reducing Childhood Obesity in Rural Communities
Physicians in rural communities who serve obese children are more effective at providing care and improving children’s health when they participate in online “telemedicine” learning networks, according to a study published last week in the American Journal of Medical Quality.  Researchers from the University of California at Davis analyzed the Healthy Eating Active Living TeleHealth Community of Practice (HEALTH-COP), a virtual learning network covering seven rural communities in California; researchers found that physicians participating in the program are more effective at documenting body mass index and counseling patients on healthy eating and active living, which has led to improved eating habits and increased physical activity among their young patients. 


Upcoming Events

Farm to Food Bank to School: An Emerging Model in Communities across the Country
November 12, 2013
1:00 –1:20 PM ET
Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this webinar will feature representatives from food banks that are emerging as community food hubs, connecting local farms to other markets, including schools. Register for the webinar.

Bridging Clinical Care and Public Health: Focus on Type 2 Diabetes Prevention
November 13, 2013
1:30 – 3:00 PM ET
Hosted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Diabetes Advocacy Alliance, this webinar will explore how clinical care and public health communities can work together and how communities are implementing evidence-based interventions to address and prevent Type 2 diabetes. Register for the webinar.

Building Successful Physical Activity Coalitions through Understanding the Needs of Coalition Members
November 18, 2013
1:00 – 2:00 PM ET
Sponsored by the National Physical Activity Society, this webinar share the key factors that organizations considered to be important when deciding to commit to a physical activity coalition and demonstrate how those factors impact perceived coalition success. Register for the webinar.

Actions to Reduce Unhealthy Food Marketing to Kids: Understanding the Past to Foster Success in the Present
November 19, 2013
1:00 – 2:00 PM ET
Sponsored by ASTHO, the Food Marketing Workgroup and NPLAN, this webinar will address the effectiveness of industry self-regulation and offer policy options to address food marketing to children at the state and local levels. Register for the webinar.