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The Rudd Center Health Digest

December 2010

Child Nutrition Bill Approved

School_Lunch

School food advocates are rejoicing at Congress' recent approval of the child nutrition bill – the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

Features of the bill include:

  • Raising the rate for reimbursable meals by six cents to set higher nutritional standards for items sold in the lunch line and vending machines
  • Boosting the number of low-income children who qualify for reduced-price or free school meals
  • Increasing the reach of the Afterschool Lunch Program from 13 to all 50 states
  • Strengthening school wellness policies by revising policy requirements

Initially extended for one year by Congress in 2009, the House of Representatives failed to vote on the bill by the September 30 deadline amid controversy over the proposed funding increases from cuts in the federal food stamp program. President Obama, who anticipates signing the bill, intends to find alternate funding sources before the reductions take effect.

New Pledges on Food Marketing to Children Database

What promises have the food and beverage industries made to limit unhealthy food marketing to children worldwide? Which companies and restaurants have made commitments to the pledges? How do companies’ commitments vary by country? The Rudd Center’s new international database of pledges on food marketing to children can answer these questions.

We have compiled detailed information on the 16 pledges that have been launched around the world and individual companies’ commitments to those pledges. The database is searchable by country and company, and specific pledge details include definition of audience and "children" (based on age), communications channels and marketing methods covered, and foods affected.

The database is part of a Rudd Center initiative to study the scope and impact of food marketing to young people funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and was developed in collaboration with Corinna Hawkes, PhD, Consultant in Food and Nutrition Policy and Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Food Policy of City University London.

“We developed this tool for researchers and the public health community to help them understand the promises that food companies have made around the world and spur further improvements in marketing practices targeted to young people” said Jennifer L. Harris, PhD, MBA, Rudd Center Director of Marketing Initiatives.

Kellogg Company Settles False Advertising Lawsuit

A settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit alleging that the Kellogg Company had falsely advertised its Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal by saying it improved children’s attentiveness, memory, and other cognitive functions.

Under the proposed settlement, Kellogg will be required to set up a $2.75 million fund to pay claims to consumers who purchased Frosted Mini-Wheats between January 28, 2008, and October 1, 2009. Consumers can seek $5 in compensation for each box of purchased cereal, up to a total of three boxes. They can submit a claim form until June 3, 2011. Kellogg has also agreed to give $5.5 million to charities working to provide food to indigent people and to make changes in its labeling and marketing of Frosted Mini-Wheats.

Upcoming Seminar Speaker

December 8, 12:30 pm
Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, MPH
Professor of Epidemiology, Associate Dean for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Expanding the Obesity Research Paradigm to Include the Community: Finding Solutions to Obesity in African Americans

Unless otherwise noted, seminars are held at the Rudd Center. The seminars are free and open to the public. Seating is limited. The full schedule for our Fall Seminar Series is available online and for download.

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive reminders of upcoming seminars and schedule changes.

Weight Bias: A Barrier to Gynecologic Care

Obese patients commonly report that their weight makes them embarrassed and reluctant to obtain routine gynecologic examinations, according to a recent article by Rebecca M. Puhl, PhD, Rudd Center Director of Research and Weight Stigma Initiatives. Barriers include use of small gowns and inadequate medical equipment, embarrassment about being weighed, and negative attitudes from healthcare providers.

Providers can implement several strategies to increase obese patients’ access to gynecologic services and improve their quality of care. Strategies include weighing patients in private and with appropriate equipment, using sensitive language, and focusing on health behaviors.

The article is the latest in a series on Medscape, a part of WebMD Health Professional Network (free online registration required).

Rudd Center Spotlight: Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, MPH

KumanyikaShiriki Kumanyika, PhD, MPH, will discuss community-based solutions to reduce obesity among African Americans during the Rudd Center’s Fall Seminar Series on December 8. Dr. Kumanyika is Professor of Epidemiology and Associate Dean for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine.

With a background that integrates epidemiology, nutrition, minority health, and women's health, Dr. Kumanyika focuses her research on the prevention of obesity and related health problems such as hypertension and diabetes. Her work centers on health disparities affecting African Americans.

In 2002, Dr. Kumanyika founded the African American Collaborative Obesity Research Network, a national network devoted to improving the quality, quantity, and effective translation of obesity research for African American communities. She was also the founding director of Penn’s Master of Public Health Program and is active in public health within the United States and abroad.

She currently serves as Vice-Chair of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on the Healthy People 2020 Objectives and as Co-Chair of the London-based International Obesity Task Force.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Calorie Counter

Restaurants in Erie County, New York, will now display nutrition facts for their menu items, including calorie, fat, salt, and vitamin content. The information will enable customers to make more informed menu choices and encourage restaurants to create healthier options.

Developed by the county health department and the Western New York chapter of the National Restaurant Association, this is the first initiative of its kind. A software program used to generate the nutrition information will be given to the first 200 restaurants to participate. Funding was provided by a New York community wellness grant.

The Latest Rudd Center Podcasts

Terry O’Toole, PhD, FASHA
Health Scientist, Division of Adolescent and School Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Rudd Center’s extensive library of podcasts is available for download on iTunes U, under the Yale University Health & Medicine – Nutrition & Obesity section, or can be subscribed to through an RSS Feed that automatically updates when new content is released. Podcasts can be listened to on a computer or downloaded to a music player.

Front Burner News

Report Suggests Food Labels List Harmful Nutrients

A report recently released from the Institute of Medicine suggests to the FDA and Congress that easy-to-grasp nutrition information on the front of food packages should focus on the nutrients most responsible for obesity and chronic diseases: calories, saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium. Read more.

Closing the Deficit by Taxing Soda

The second bipartisan panel to issue a deficit reduction plan has favored taxing soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages. The panel believes the tax would help reduce long-term healthcare spending to treat obesity-related illnesses. Read more.

U.S. Dietary Guidelines About to Change

Updated by law every five years by the USDA and Department of Health and Human Services, new dietary guidelines are set to be released by 2011. Few Americans will be untouched by the new recommendations as the guidelines will direct federal nutrition policy and food labels. Read more.

Children Still Have Access to Sugary Drinks at School

Almost 45% of public elementary school students had access to higher-fat milk or sugary drinks at school during the 2008-2009 academic year. That number is up from about 39% during the 2006-2007 academic year. Read more.

Children Skip Meals and Snack Often

Breakfast

Many children are snacking frequently but skipping breakfast and dinner – meals that contain nutrients crucial to development and health – according to the American Dietetic Association Foundation. Read more.

Airports Adding Healthier Options

Nutrition experts with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine found that airport restaurants are adding healthier food options to their menus. More than three-quarters of the restaurants at the 18 airports examined offered at least one healthful entrée, a considerable improvement since the inaugural review in 2001. Read more.

Cost-Effective Strategies to Curb Obesity

The best ways to curb rising obesity rates in developing countries could include inexpensive strategies such as taxing junk food, limiting food advertising, and making labels clearer, according to researchers at the World Health Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Read more.

VOICES

Fast Food and Soda Companies to Draft UK Health Policy

The UK Department of Health has invited companies such as McDonald's and PepsiCo to form "food networks" to write policies addressing public health problems such as obesity and diet-related diseases. The corporations’ conflicts of interest could prevent them from making unbiased contributions to the networks. Read more.

Why Should We Tax Soda?

Is obesity worse for your health than smoking? We heavily tax tobacco but not soda, and are allowing Big Food to win the fight against an impactful soda tax. As cigarette taxes rose, smoking began to decline. The same would happen with sugar-sweetened drinks. Read more.

FOOD MARKETING NEWS


Strong Fast Food Marketing Standards for Children

Food_Marketing

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) issued a statement urging strong standards on child-targeted marketing by fast food restaurants. Read more.

Suits Accuse Snapple of False Health Claims

Snapple faces lawsuits charging that claims about the health benefits of Acai Mixed Berry Red Tea are false and misleading. Read more.