Childhood Obesity Policy Update: December 19, 2013

    • December 19, 2013

Federal Policy

Farm Bill Deal Pushed to 2014
Leaders of the House and Senate Farm Bill conference committee announced last week that a deal on reauthorization had not yet been finalized, though principal negotiators expect a vote on a compromise bill in January. Reports indicate that the final bill will include an approximately $8-$9 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program over ten years—higher than the $4.5 billion included in a Senate-passed bill but significantly lower than the $40 billion approved by the House

USDA Awards Grants for Upgraded School Meal Service Equipment
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an allocation of $11 million in grants yesterday for school districts to upgrade food service equipment to serve the healthier foods required by recently updated nutrition standards for school meals. Grants were awarded to 14 states and the District of Columbia based on free- and reduced-price participation in the National School Lunch Program—states will distribute the awards to local schools on a competitive basis, with preference to districts that serve a high percentage of children from low-income families.

House Bill Would Require White House, USDA Compliance with School Meals Standards
Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., introduced the School Nutrition Fairness Act last week, a bill that would require official meals and cafeteria offerings served by the White House and Department of Agriculture to adhere to recently updated nutrition standards for school meals. Earlier this year—in accordance with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans—USDA announced that it would remove all deep fryers from its cafeterias and establish healthy menu requirements with a new food vendor


State and Local Policy

Michigan Bill Would Require Physical Education for K-8 Students
Michigan State Representative Matt Lori (R) introduced a bill last week (HB 5196) that would establish mandatory physical education standards for elementary and middle schools statewide. The bill would require at least 30 minutes of physical education for elementary school students twice a week for the entire school year, along with an additional 60 minutes per week of in-school physical activity. The bill would also require 45 minutes of physical education for middle school students every day for at least one full semester. It has been referred to the House education committee; Michigan’s 2014 legislative session will begin in January.  

Florida Bill Would Authorize Joint Use Agreements
Florida State Senator Aaron Bean (R) introduced a bill last week (SB 396) that would encourage school districts statewide to allow open recreation facilities for community use during non-school hours. The bill’s findings section notes that “greater access to recreation and sports facilities is reduce the impact of obesity on personal health and health care expenditures.” A companion bill (HB 277) was introduced in November; Florida’s 2014 legislative session will begin in March.  


From the Field

Report: U.S. Schools Need Updated Kitchen Equipment
Only 1 in 10 school districts nationwide (12 percent) has all the kitchen equipment needed to serve healthy foods, according to a new report issued by the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods (KSHF) Project. The report from KSHF—a collaboration between The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—found that more than 85 percent of the school districts that reported having inadequate equipment are “making do” with a less-efficient process or workaround, while 55 percent of school districts need kitchen infrastructure changes, such as electrical upgrades, at one or more schools. The report recommends that school officials, policymakers, and communities work collaboratively to identify and implement strategies for meeting equipment, infrastructure, and training needs.

America’s Health Rankings: Decline in Physical Inactivity, Level Obesity Rates
Physical inactivity levels dropped and adult obesity rates remained unchanged in 2013, according this year’s edition of the America’s Health Rankings. The report—a collaboration between the United Health Foundation, American Public Health Association, and Partnership for Prevention—noted that physical inactivity levels declined from 26.2 percent of adults in 2012 to 22.9 percent in 2013. The report also noted that the leveling off of adult obesity rates—reported earlier this year in the 2013 F as in Fat report—marks the first year that adult obesity rates did not increase since 1998.

Study: Children’s Movies Glamorize Unhealthy Eating
Popular children’s movies like “Happy Feet” and “Kung Fu Panda” glamorize unhealthy eating and physical inactivity, according to a report published in Obesity. Researchers from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine analyzed the 20 top-grossing G- and PG-rated films released between 2006 and 2010; they found that 51 percent of food scenes featured unhealthy snacks, while 40 percent showed characters watching television. 


Upcoming Events

***Live Broadcast: RWJF Commission to Build a Healthier America***
January 13, 2014
2:30 – 4:00 PM ET

Building on its original work from 2009—which helped advance a national movement to address non-medical factors that affect our health—the RWJF Commission to Build a Healthier America will release new recommendations covering three key areas:

Prioritizing investments in America’s youngest children.

Encouraging leaders in different sectors to work together to create communities where healthy decisions are possible.

Challenging health professionals and health care institutions to expand their focus from treating illness to helping people live healthy lives.

Register for the January 13 live online event. Follow the event on Twitter: @RWJFCommission and #cbha2014.

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
The John Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center (Building 35), Seminar Room 620, NIH Bethesda Campus
9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892
Hosted by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, this will be the second meeting of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.  Register to attend the meeting