Childhood Obesity Policy Update: November 5, 2013

    • November 5, 2013

Federal Policy

House Bill Seeks to Extend SNAP Stimulus Benefit
Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., introduced legislation (H.R.3353) last week that would provide a one-year extension for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits increase enacted as a part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The benefits increase—which expired last week—will result in a cut of approximately $5 billion to the program’s 48 million recipients in FY2014 if it is not reversed. 


State and Local Policy

Chicago Announces Obesity Rate Decline among City Kindergartners
Childhood obesity rates fell from 24 percent to 19.1 percent among Chicago kindergarteners between 2003 and 2012, according to new data released by the Chicago Department of Public Health last week. City health commissioner Bechara Choucair expressed “[excitement] about seeing these numbers headed in the right direction.” Officials pointed to recent initiatives that have added more fruits and vegetables to school lunches, restored recess, and expanded data collection efforts.

Telluride Voters to Decide Fate of Soda Tax Proposal
Voters in Telluride, Colorado, will vote on a ballot measure today that would impose a penny-per-ounce excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. If approved, revenues from the tax—which would be the first of its kind in the nation—would provide an estimated $200,000 to $400,000 annually that would be used to fund scholarships, after-school activities, and gardening programs.

San Francisco to Consider Soda Tax Ballot Initiative Proposal
San Francisco City Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced legislation last week that would place a two cents-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages; if passed, the bill would ultimately be decided by voters via a ballot initiative in 2014. Supervisor Wiener said the measure would provide an estimated $30 million in annual revenue to fund physical education and healthy meals programs in city schools as well as city parks and recreation departments. The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the measure next spring; a two-thirds majority among voters would be required for enactment. 


From the Field

Sesame Street Characters to Promote Fruits and Vegetables
The Partnership for a Healthier America announced last week that the Sesame Workshop will permit the use of characters such as Big Bird and Elmo to promote fruits and vegetables without a licensing fee. Under the two-year agreement, growers, suppliers, and retailers affiliated with the Produce Marketing Association will be able to use the characters’ likeness to promote fruit and vegetable consumption. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, called the agreement a “win-win” and said that “[i]f we’re going to advertise to kids, the characters they love best should be used to promote only the foods that are best for them.”

Fast Food Industry Still Targets Children with Unhealthy Marketing
The fast food industry spent $4.6 billion to advertise mostly unhealthy products, and children and teens remained key audiences for that advertising, according to a report released today by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. The report—Fast Food FACTS 2013, a follow-up to a Rudd report from 2010 and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—highlights a few positive developments, such as healthier sides and beverages in most restaurants’ kids’ meals, but also finds that children and teens see three to five fast food ads on TV every day, and that less than one percent of kids’ meals combinations at restaurants meet nutrition standards recommended by experts.

Localities, Retailers Brace for SNAP Cuts
An analysis released by Feeding America last week estimates the impact of the recent $5 billion cut in FY2014 to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at the county and state level; using county-level participation rates, the analysis estimates both the total dollar value cut and the number of lost meals counties nationwide can expect, ranging from a loss of $432 in SNAP benefits in Cook County, Minnesota to a high of $134 million in lost SNAP benefits in Los Angeles County, California, over the next 12 months. The benefits cut is also expected to affect grocery stores and other retailers; according to Andrew Wolf, an analyst with BB&T Capital Markets, the cut “is going to hit those outlets that cater to lower-income consumers... from a macroeconomic point of view, it's less fiscal stimulus."


Upcoming Events

Implementing the Highest Standard of Healthy Food Opportunities for Kids
November 6, 2013
3:00 – 4:00 PM ET
Sponsored by the Partnership for a Healthier America and Prevention Partners, this webinar will explore how to establish healthy food standards for children. 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.

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.