Childhood Obesity Policy Update: December 10, 2013

    • December 10, 2013

Federal Policy

House Bill Would Allow Schools to Opt Out of Nutrition Standards
Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., introduced the Reducing Federal Mandates on School Lunch Act (H.R. 3663) last week, a bill that would allow schools to opt out of recently updated nutrition standards for school meals if they determine that “the school food authority is not capable of operating a food service program without increased costs as a result of complying” with the standards.  The bill would also make permanent the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recent temporary easing of calorie limits on meat and grain products in school lunches, a step that USDA is currently pursuing through its rulemaking authority.   

USDA: SNAP Participants Make Healthier Choices with Nutrition Education
Well-designed nutrition education programs can lead to healthier food choices by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries, according to a report released last week by the Department of Agriculture. Researchers found that children participating in SNAP’s Nutrition Education (SNAP-Ed) initiatives increased their daily fruit and vegetable consumption at home and were more likely to choose low-fat or fat-free milk.


State and Local Policy

Physical Education Bill Introduced in Wisconsin
Wisconsin state Rep. Chad Weininger (R) introduced legislation yesterday that would require Wisconsin school districts to provide at least 30 minutes of physical education daily for elementary school students statewide. Rep. Weininger indicated plans to introduce such a bill in September; he noted that bill is based on national recommendations by the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association.   

Pennsylvania Legislature Approves New Funding for Walking, Bicycling Projects
The Pennsylvania legislature approved a $2.3 billion transportation bill last week that includes the establishment of a fund to provide an annual appropriation of $144 million for multi-modal initiatives such as walking and bicycling projects. Jill Birnbaum, executive director of Voices for Healthy Kids, said that “advocates will continue to work to ensure appropriated dollars are spent on initiatives that truly improve the ease of walking and bicycling in communities.” 


From the Field

RWJF Releases Updated Brief on Return on Investment in Public Health
An updated brief from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation compiles evidence from recent reports and studies showing that strategic investments in proven, community-based prevention programs save lives and money. The brief notes that chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes—often related to obesity—are responsible for seven in 10 deaths among Americans each year, and account for nearly 75 percent of the nation’s health spending.

Report: More Children Walking To and From School
More elementary and middle school children are walking to and from school, according a report released by the National Center for Safe Routes to School. The report—which analyzed parent survey data collected from 4,700 U.S. schools between 2007 and 2012—found that the percentage of students in grades K-8 walking to school increased from 12.4 percent to 15.7 percent, while the percentage walking home from school increased from 15.8 percent to 19.7 percent. 


Upcoming Events

Report from the Field: Mexico and Telluride’s Sugary Drink Taxes
December 12, 2013
3:00 – 4:00 ET

Hosted by the Yale Rudd Center, Center for Science in the Public Interest, and California Center for Public Health Advocacy, this webinar will feature leaders of the latest sugary drink tax campaigns as they recount their campaign strategies and lessons learned. Register for the webinar.

Healthy Eating Out: Raising the Bar for Nutrition at Restaurants
December 17, 2013
2:00 – 3:00 ET

Sponsored by ASTHO, the Food Marketing Workgroup and NPLAN, this webinar will provide an overview of the types of healthy restaurant programs along with tips for states and local jurisdictions interested in creating a similar program. Register for the webinar.

The Current State of Obesity Solutions in the United States—A Workshop
January 7, 2014
National Academy of Sciences Building
2101 Constitution Avenue NW Washington, DC 20418

Hosted by the Institute of Medicine’s new Roundtable on Obesity Solutions, this workshop will present a status update on the current epidemiology of obesity and explore the prevalence, trends, severity, and disparities across the United States. Workshop presenters will discuss key settings where change is happening, focusing on nutrition, physical activity, the elimination of health disparities, and what should happen next. Register to attend the meeting or watch via live webcast.

2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Second Meeting
January 13-14, 2014
Washington D.C.

Hosted by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, this will be the second meeting of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The meeting was originally scheduled for October 3-4, 2013 but was rescheduled due to the government shutdown.  A federal register notice with more information will be published in the coming weeks.  Learn more about the Advisory Committee