New Website on School Food for Parent Advocates
The Rudd Center recently launched a website aimed at helping parent advocates navigate through the complex issues of school food. Rudd SPARK – Supporting Parent Advocates with Resources & Knowledge – connects parent advocates to Rudd Center research and resources and each other.
Rudd SPARK helps parent advocates understand school food regulation at the federal, state, and local levels and provides strategies on how to become a school food expert, advocate effectively, and use local and social media for change within their own district.
The site highlights areas that can have a positive impact on the school food environment, including wellness policies, national meal programs, foods sold outside national meal programs, school gardens, and school food legislation. Each area contains relevant research, local examples utilized by school districts around the country, and tools to develop strategies and track progress.
Rudd SPARK also identifies key players in schools, school districts, and the community who are essential in building a healthy school food environment.
“Parents are critically important and powerful advocates for children’s health,” said Marlene Schwartz, PhD, Deputy Director of the Rudd Center. “This site is designed to provide parents with the resources and knowledge they need to ensure their voices are heard by school administrators, policy makers, and the food industry. Rudd SPARK marks the beginning of an ongoing effort at the Rudd Center to make our research accessible to parents throughout the country.”
Campaigns Launched to Reduce Sugary Drinks
The Center for Science in the Public Interest recently announced a new campaign, Life's Sweeter with Fewer Sugary Drinks, which encourages individuals, families, and organizations to reduce consumption of sugary drinks.
The campaign’s website provides research on the effects of sugary drinks. It also offers calls to action, including supporting city/county/state government initiatives to reduce sugary drink consumption, limiting the sale of the beverages in cafeterias, and providing only water and low-calorie drinks at organizational functions.
The City of Boston, Massachusetts, kicked off a public awareness campaign aimed at reducing residents’ consumption of sugary-sweetened beverages. It focuses on teens and youth who consume more than other age groups, and parents who purchase groceries for families. Residents will be exposed to the campaign through advertising on TV, radio, public transportation, web, print, and billboard.
Recent Rudd Center Blogs
Weight Bias Remains Even After Weight Loss
Weight-based stigmatization is so pervasive that many overweight and obese people seek extreme weight-loss methods such as bariatric surgery.
In a recent blog, Rebecca Puhl, PhD, Rudd Center Director of Research and Weight Stigma Initiatives, reviewed a study that investigated if weight bias changed after someone lost weight. The study asked participants to view an image of an obese woman before and after she lost weight. The participants perceived her more favorably when she was thinner. However, attitudes varied depending on the weight-loss method.
Participants viewed the woman more positively when they thought she had lost weight through diet and exercise. But, when they thought she had lost weight through surgery, the woman was thought to be as lazy as when she was obese. “It appears that efforts are needed not only to combat stigma towards persons who are obese, but also to reduce the stigma of weight loss surgery,” according to Dr. Puhl.
Fighting a Battle for Weight-Loss Surgery
Weight-loss (bariatric) surgery can provide health benefits and even be a life-saving solution for obese people. Still, many people in need of bariatric surgery are unable to receive it, according to a recent blog by Dr. Puhl. In the United States, the “surgery is most often performed on white women with higher incomes and private health insurance, creating disparities for racial minorities and individuals in lower socio-economic brackets, who are more likely to be obese,” she wrote. Dr. Puhl urges health care professionals to question whether obesity is stigmatized and how to make bariatric surgery more accessible for those who need it most.
Are Story Books About Dieting Appropriate for Children?
A new children’s book called “Maggie Goes on a Diet,” set to be released in October, is garnering a significant amount of media attention and criticism. The book is about a 14-year old girl who is teased at school and decides to lose weight by going on a diet and exercising. She eventually becomes a star soccer player and gains popularity.
The book’s title, story line, and cover raise questions about how to communicate the importance of a healthy lifestyle to children without perpetuating stigma and the obsession with thinness, according to Dr. Puhl.
The articles by Dr. Puhl are the latest in a series about weight bias on Medscape, a part of WebMD Health Professional Network (free online registration required).
Upcoming Seminar Speakers
September 28, 12:30 pm
October 12, 12:30 pm
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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.
Just Published by the Rudd Center
Policy Options to Regulate Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
Innovative policy options should be explored to regulate sugar-sweetened beverages and support public health, according to a paper recently published in Journal of Public Health Policy.
As public-health studies expose the detrimental health impact of sugar-sweetened beverages, consumer protection and public-health advocates have called for increased government control, according to author Jennifer Pomeranz, JD, MPH, Director of Legal Initiatives at the Rudd Center.
While the major focus of governmental control has been on restricting marketing of sugar-sweetened beverages to children, the author asserts that policy options such as mandatory factual disclosures, earmarked taxation, and regulation of sales, including placement within retail and food-service establishments and schools, should be explored and utilized to reduce consumption.
Local Governments Can Protect Children from Harmful Food Marketing
Local governments and municipalities are in a unique position to initiate legislation that will limit the harmful effects of food marketing to children, according to a recent paper coauthored by the Rudd Center's Jennifer Harris, PhD, MBA, Director of Marketing Initiatives.
In 2006, the food industry spent $1.6 billion on marketing to youth through TV, other media advertising, and targeted advertising in local communities such as stores, schools, and restaurants. In the article published in Preventing Chronic Disease, the authors call on local governments to make changes to the obesogenic marketing environment that surrounds children who are uniquely vulnerable to advertising's effects.
The authors urge states and localities to take a regulatory stand against harmful forms of food marketing to youth that occur in their communities. Each state retains the authority to act in the interest of the public's health, safety, and welfare. Therefore, states hold the authority to legislate on that basis.
Dr. Harris' coauthor was Samantha K. Graff, JD, Director of Legal Research at the National Policy & Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity (NPLAN).
Darden Restaurants to Offer Healthier Meals
Darden Restaurant Corporation, owners of Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and LongHorn Steakhouse, recently announced that it will reduce the calories and sodium in all of its meals by 10 percent over five years and 20 percent over 10 years. The restaurant also committed to offering healthier children’s meals.
Children's meals will come with a fruit or vegetable side dish and 1 percent milk, unless an adult requests a substitute. Sodas and fries will not be listed on the menus, but can be requested in most locations. Changes to children’s meals will take place by July 2012.
Darden’s chief executive officer, Clarence Otis, made the announcement alongside First Lady Michelle Obama who, according to Otis, prompted the restaurant group to act. "Because of our First Lady's leadership, parents are more aware of the need to encourage healthier living and exercise," Otis said. "At Darden, we want to support that effort."
Rudd Center Spotlight: Tamara R. Piety, JD, LLM
Tamara R. Piety, JD, LLM, Associate Dean of Faculty Development and Associate Professor of Law at the University of Tulsa College of Law, will discuss marketing and the commercial speech doctrine on September 28 during the Rudd Center’s Fall Seminar Series.
Ms. Piety is a nationally recognized legal scholar and writes about the legal treatment of commercial and corporate speech. She is widely published in legal journals including Michigan Law Review First Impressions, Case Western Reserve Law Review, Cardozo Law Review, Temple Law Review, and Seattle Law Review. She is the author of the book “Brandishing the First Amendment,” which will be released this fall.
She was a co-author on a brief on behalf of the Sierra Club, filed in support of Respondent Mark Kasky in the Nike v. Kasky case, which had implications for the ability to hold corporations responsible for the accuracy of their statements about their corporate social-responsibility efforts.
Ms. Piety earned her bachelor's degree in economics from Florida International University, her law degree from the University of Miami School of Law, and her Master of Laws from Harvard Law School.
Food for Thought: Last of the Lunch Ladies
Cafeteria employees have served their final platters in 45 high schools and ten middle schools in Florida's Miami-Dade school district. Starting this fall, Star Food's Healthy Express vending machines will replace the schools' cafeteria workers. However, these aren't your traditional vending machines. Instead of soda and chips, they'll dispense healthier options such as yogurt parfaits, wraps, and salads made with locally grown ingredients. Local celebrity chefs created many of the vending items. Students can swipe their identification card at the machines and money will automatically be deducted from their lunch account.
The vending machine installations are funded by some of the $15 million in federal stimulus money Miami-Dade County Health Department received for obesity prevention programs.
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