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The Rudd Center Health Digest

April 2014

Rudd ‘Roots Parents Offers New Tools for Parent Advocates  

Rudd 'Roots Parents

New tools have been added to the Rudd Center’s parent advocate website, Rudd 'Roots Parents, which is a resource for parent advocates who are passionate about supporting kids with a healthy school environment. 

The website offers easy-to-use tools, information, and research to address weight bias and weight-based bullying, improve the nutritional quality of school food, and eliminate unhealthy food and beverage marketing in schools.

New tools include: 

• An interactive tool that organizes advocacy resources for parents by type, topic, and scope, and includes Rudd Center resources, links to allied organizations, and evidence for action. 

• A section that provides examples of food marketing in schools and suggestions for advocacy actions. 

• A section that teaches parents about weight bias and bullying at schools, at home, in the media, and at the doctor’s office.  

• A Take Action! section that shows advocates current initiatives parents can support, and connects them to other advocates via our social media networks. 

Rudd ‘Roots Parents was first launched in 2012 as a tool to support the grassroots efforts of parent advocates to make school food healthier, and has since grown to incorporate the issues of food marketing and weight-based bullying in schools.  

Rudd ‘Roots recently hosted a tweet chat on how advocates can effectively use school wellness policies to support a healthy, nurturing learning environment for kids. Panelists included Bettina Siegel of the Lunch Tray, Hanna Jones of Center for Science in the Public Interest, and Rebecca Puhl of the Rudd Center - all leading experts on improving the school environment. 

Voices for Healthy Kids Launches Toolkit to Reduce Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption

Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and American Heart Association, has released a toolkit entitled "Don't Sugarcoat Our Future" to guide coalitions which are working to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

The toolkit offers fact sheets, sample materials, and guidance on how to build, engage, and mobilize a social change movement in states and communities to reduce consumption of sugary beverages and, more specifically, to promote pricing strategies that will discourage consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. 

"Don’t Sugarcoat Our Future" was released with a collection of parallel toolkits on other social change strategies to help kids live more active and healthful lives. 

To access the toolkit, click here

Reserve a Spot at the National Soda Summit  

The Center for Science in the Public Interest will host the 2nd National Soda Summit on June 4-5, 2014, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Participants, including advocates, researchers, and state and local officials, will learn the latest on taxes, warning labels, portion sizes, procurement policies, and marketing reform efforts across the country.

Click here for more information and to register.

Food Marketing Targets Children in Schools 

Food companies spend almost $150 million per year to market to children in school buildings, exceeded only by their spending on television advertising and premiums, according to a report by the Federal Trade Commission.

Research shows that in addition to corporate-sponsored programs, exclusive vending contracts, and branded foods, the food companies sponsor fundraisers, offer reward programs to encourage family purchases of their products, and provide "free" branded education materials to schools.

According to Jennifer Harris, PhD, MBA, Rudd Center’s Director of Marketing Initiatives, who recently blogged in Psychology Today, these programs appear to be philanthropic in nature but are nothing more than sophisticated, low-cost marketing tools designed to reach a captive audience of children in a place they spend time in every day – their schools.

Dr. Harris asserted the need for increased understanding of the potential costs of this marketing on children’s health and well-being – and a public discussion of whether the financial benefits from these arrangements outweigh the costs.

She also applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s newly proposed rule that would allow marketing in schools only for foods and beverages that meet the new "Smart Snacks" nutrition standards for foods that can be sold outside the school lunch program.

To express your support for the USDA rules and for more information about food marketing in schools and ways you can address unhealthy food marketing in your own children’s schools visit Rudd ‘Roots Parents and PreventObesity.net

Most Schools Meet New Federal Requirement to Provide Drinking Water at Lunch 

Drinking Water

Most schools meet the new USDA drinking water mandate but more steps are needed to encourage consumption, according to a study by Bridging the Gap that was recently published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Drinking water is important for good health and linked with cognitive benefits, but most children do not meet daily recommendations for water intake, according to the authors.  

Starting in the 2011-2012 school year, schools participating in the federally-funded National School Lunch program were required to provide students with access to free drinking water during school meals, in the location where meals are served.

Researchers examined compliance with the new requirement as well as perceptions about drinking fountain cleanliness and water quality.

In 2011-2012, 86% of elementary, 87% of middle, and 89% of high school students attended schools that reported meeting the drinking water requirement. However, researchers also found that there were concerns over the cleanliness and water quality.

The authors asserted that since the federal drinking water requirement is unfunded, schools may need additional resources to address these concerns. Collaboration among district and school level staff, including dietitians, food service staff, wellness councils, nurses, and teachers is key to improving access.  

Resource for Interactive Health Education Curriculum

KickinNutrition.TV (KNTV) is a new digital health, nutrition, and wellness interactive curriculum for tweens/teens (ages 8-14) and their families that has just been launched by KidsCOOK Productions and Ingredients for Education/Filmmaker's Collaborative.

KNTV includes peer-taught and teacher-moderated video lessons, interactive health games, an incentive-based badging system, and additional resources to integrate health education into any classroom. KNTV’s multimedia program provides students with the skills, knowledge, and motivation to overcome obstacles to eating better and being physically active.

According to Natasha Lance Rogoff, President of IFE and Executive Producer of KNTV, who recently presented the online curriculum to the Rudd Center, "our goal for this resource is to harness technology to foster lifelong healthy habits, leadership, and self-efficacy at a time when this intervention can greatly influence childhood development in a positive direction."

"This is great resource for schools as it teaches kids about health in an engaging and entertaining way while also acknowledging the unhealthy food environment," according to Marlene Schwartz, PhD, Rudd Center Director.

Videos included in the curriculum can be viewed here.  

Public Health Advocates Urge Lebron James to End his Partnership with McDonald's 

Public health organizations, including the Rudd Center, recently co-signed a letter to NBA player, Lebron James, urging him to end his affiliation with McDonald’s.

The letter, written by Corporate Accountability International, informs James that his association with McDonald’s sends the wrong message to children.

"As a world-class athlete, NBA champion and Olympian, you have vast influence with millions of youth," wrote the authors. "They admire your achievements and want to strive for greatness because of your example. But by promoting McDonald’s through social media, television commercials and the All-American Game, you are being used by this corporation to hook children on a lifetime of junk food and diet-related disease."

The letter can be viewed and signed here.  

Just Published by the Rudd Center

Weight Discrimination: Public Supports Disability and Civil Rights Legal Protection 

Gavel

Public support for policies that prohibit weight discrimination and provide disability and civil rights protection for obese individuals has grown in the past few years, according to a study published by the Rudd Center in the journal Obesity

Researchers surveyed more than 1,000 people in 2011, 2012, and 2013 to assess their support for proposed legislation that would prohibit weight discrimination, extend disability protection for individuals with obesity, and add body weight as a protected class under federal civil rights statutes.

Support for laws prohibiting weight discrimination was consistent across all three years, with at least 75% of those surveyed in favor of laws that would make it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees based on their weight.

Furthermore, support for extending disability protections for individuals with obesity grew from 62% in 2011 to 69% in 2013. Support for adding body weight as a protected class under civil rights laws grew from 70% to 76% in the same time period.

"The trends we observed have important implications for existing and future policy initiatives," said Rebecca Puhl, PhD, Rudd Center Deputy Director and co-author of the study. "Legislation could reduce inequities for millions of Americans who are vulnerable to unfair treatment because of their weight, and improve their quality of life."

Currently, there are no federal laws making it illegal to discriminate against a person based on his or her weight. Michigan is the only state that has a law preventing discrimination on this basis. In 2013, Massachusetts proposed a law to prohibit weight discrimination.

"Legal measures to prohibit weight discrimination could help rectify employment inequalities, facilitate public health efforts to improve the health and well-being of individuals with obesity, and reduce the social acceptability of weight prejudice," Puhl explained.

The paper was co-authored by the Rudd Center’s Young Suh, MS, Research Associate, Rebecca Puhl, PhD, Deputy Director; Sai Liu, MPH, Biostatistician; and Frances Fleming Milici, PhD, Research Associate.

The Latest Rudd Center Podcasts

William Spencer, MD
Suffolk County Legislator
The Politics of Public Health Policy

Parke Wilde, PhD
Associate Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University
Innovations in SNAP: Merit Goods and Healthy Incentives  

The Rudd Center’s extensive library of podcasts is available for download on iTunes.

Front Burner News

Severe Obesity Rates Rising in Children
Contrary to a recent report with encouraging findings on childhood obesity in the United States, a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics shows that severe obesity in children has increased over the past 14 years. Read more.

Childhood Obesity is Costly

Childhood obesity adds nearly $20,000 to lifetime medical costs, according to a study published in Pediatrics. Read more

Mothers’ Monitoring of Media Linked to Kids’ Weight   

Children whose mothers pay close attention to how much time they spend watching TV and playing video games tend to weigh less, according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics. Read more.

Customers Usually Choose the Default Menu Option 

Many restaurants are creating menus that provide customers with different options with their meals. "Giving people all of these options with their meals makes them feel like they have a lot of choice and the restaurant is providing a valuable service," said Rudd Center’s Director of Marketing Initiatives, Jennifer Harris, PhD, MBA. "But the bottom line is that most people take the main option or the default option regardless of how many choices there are." Read more.

Bill Introduced to Limit Junk Food Purchases with Food Stamps

Delaware lawmakers will introduce legislation that would limit the use of food stamps for purchasing junk food, to encourage healthier eating habits among recipients. Read more.

Families Urged to Participate in Screen-Free Week 

Solving the obesity problem is a complex process involving more than just what the child eats, according to Marianne Carter, registered dietitian and Director of the Delaware Center for Health Promotion at Delaware State University. One associated factor is the impact of screen time and television commercials. Carter urges families to participate in Screen-Free Week, May 5-11. Read more.  

Food Revolution Day Scheduled 

Food Revolution Day, a campaign by the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation and The Good Foundation, will take place on Friday, May 16, 2014 and will celebrate the importance of cooking food from scratch and raising awareness of how it impacts our health and happiness. Read more.  

VOICES

Media’s Responsibility in the Public Health Debate 

It is the media's responsibility to facilitate a legitimate debate on topics that are critical to making our communities healthier, according to Marice Ashe, CEO and Founder of ChangeLab Solutions. She asserts that if reporters used more accurate and nuanced language, readers would consider critical public health measures in a more balanced, thoughtful way. Read more.

New York Soda Tax Advocate Gives Advice to San Francisco Advocates 

Nancy Huehnergarth, a healthy food advocate, shares some insights into what may lie ahead for soda tax activists in the San Francisco area. Read more.

Protecting Kids from Powerful Advertising 

Marketing messages are everywhere and many children struggle to distinguish fact from fiction, according to Kimberly Palmer, Senior Editor for U.S. News & World Report. She asserts, however, that parents can help kids cope with the onslaught. Read more. 

SUGAR-SWEETENED BEVERAGES/TAXES

Increasing Taxes on Soda Decreases Consumption

Increasing taxes on soda will decrease consumption without driving shoppers to other unhealthy foods, according to a study published in the journal Appetite. Read more.  

Sugary Drink Warning Label Advances in Senate

The California Senate Committee on Health has approved a bill that would require warning labels on sugary drinks that contain at least 50 calories per cup. Read more.

Soda Industry Campaigns Early against Soda Taxes in San Francisco 

The American Beverage Association has launched a highly aggressive, early-bird campaign against soda taxes in San Francisco and has been using the rising cost of living in the city as a reason to vote against the tax, according to Jason Best, regular contributor to Take Part. Read more

Who Consumes the Most Sugary Drinks? 


Sugary drink consumption is most common among young black men and adults with lower incomes and education levels, according to a report by the CDC.
Read more.  

FOOD MARKETING

Officials Call for Warnings on Websites with Advergames

The food industry should be mandated to include pop-up health warnings on websites that carry advergames targeted at children, acrroding to the Local Government Association, which represents almost 400 councils in England and Wales. Read more

Ads for Healthier Kids’ Meals Don’t Send the Right Message

Fast food companies’ attempts at depicting healthier kids’ meals frequently go unnoticed by children ages 3 to 7 years, according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics. Read more.    

Powerful Marketing in the Cereal Aisle 

Consumers are 16 %more likely to trust a brand of cereal if the character on the box is staring them directly in the eyes, according to researchers at Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab. Read more.