Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity
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Recent Alerts

Child Health Advocates Call For Ronald McDonald Out Of Schools

July 31, 2014

At a 2014 shareholder meeting, McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson said “In Schools and our restaurants you never see Ronald McDonald.” However, Ronald McDonald does frequently appear in schools around the world.  The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood drafted a letter to Mr. Thompson, asking him to stand by his words and ensure McDonald’s stops marketing to children in schools using the company mascot.

Congresswoman DeLauro Proposes Federal Soda Tax

July 30, 2014

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) has introduced the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax Act of 2014 (SWEET Act), a bill to address obesity and diabetes by discouraging excessive sugar in beverages. The SWEET Act would amend the I.R.S. code to impose a one-cent tax on manufacturers for every teaspoon of added sugar in beverages.

The revenue from the tax would go toward initiatives designed to reduce the human and economic costs associated with health conditions related to sugar-sweetened beverage consumption.

"Scientific research shows a very clear relationship between the consumption of sugary drinks and obesity, diabetes, and other chronic health problems," said Marlene Schwartz, PhD, Rudd Center’s Director.  "Given the pervasive marketing of sugary drinks in our food environment today, we need to encourage families to make healthy choices and a soda tax has the potential to do just that."

Healthier Versions of Lunchables are Outnumbered and Out of Reach

July 16, 2014

When Kraft Foods joined the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) in 2006, it committed to advertise only healthier dietary choices, including some varieties of Lunchables, directly to children. 

However, a recent report by the Rudd Center examined the nutritional quality and marketing of Kraft Lunchables and found that just five out of 42 varieties meet CFBAI’s nutrition standards for advertising to children. In the supermarket, less nutritious versions of Lunchables outnumber the healthier ones by six to one, and the healthier varieties are most likely to be stocked on the top shelf, above eye level for both children and adults.

Howard County School Wellness Policy Gets Top National Ranking

July 10, 2014

Howard County’s school wellness policy ranked among the best in the nation, according to the Rudd Center’s Wellness School Assessment Tool (WellSAT).  The WellSAT assesses the comprehensiveness and strength of school districts’ local wellness policies in nutrition education and promotion, physical activity/physical education, school meals, and competitive foods.

The wellness policy, created by the Howard County Board of Education, was awarded an overall grade of "A" and earned a "B" for effectiveness of enforcement. The policy scored highest for its school meal plans and programs, its vending machine offerings and its evaluation measures, which all earned a perfect 100 percent overall.  Physical education and activity earned an 86 on the comprehensive score and 57 for enforcement.

"The Howard County school wellness policy is one of the very best that I've ever seen,” said Marlene Schwartz, PhD, Rudd Center’s Director. “The nutrition sections in particular will serve as a model for other districts around the country."

The policy, which aims to promote the health of Howard County’s nearly 52,000 students, was assessed for the Horizon Foundation, a Howard County philanthropy focused on public health.

New York Court of Appeals Fails to Reinstate Sugary Drink Size Limit

June 26, 2014

The New York Court of Appeals has ruled that New York City’s health department “exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority” when it adopted the Sugary Drink Portion Cap Rule, an initiative aimed to limit the sales of soda and other “sugary drinks” in sizes larger than 16 ounces.

"The research is clear: sugary drinks lead to diabetes, and skyrocketing rates of diabetes are going to bankrupt our healthcare system,” according to Marlene Schwartz, PhD, Rudd Center Director.  “The government and private industry must continue to do everything possible to educate the public and decrease consumption of these harmful beverages.  This decision is disappointing, but those of us who care about the public’s health will continue our efforts to help people stop drinking so much sugar."

“Today’s ruling does not change the fact that sugary drink consumption is a key driver of the obesity epidemic, and we will continue to look for ways to stem the twin epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes by seeking to limit the pernicious effects of aggressive and predatory marketing of sugary drinks and unhealthy foods,” said Health Commissioner Mary T. Basset, MD, MPH in a statement.

The CDC reports that the average soda is six times larger today than it was in the 1950s, and that Americans are on average 26 pounds heavier than they were in the ‘50s. The Rudd Center's Sugary Drink FACTS report documents that these beverages are the greatest source of added sugars in the American diet and the number one source of calories in teens' diets.

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