National Obesity News
CDC Reports Dip in Obesity Rates Among Some Preschoolers
Fresh analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests the tide may be turning on the childhood obesity front. After decades of steady increases, 19 states and U.S. territories saw small decreases in their rates of obesity among low-income preschoolers. And another 20 states held steady at current rates.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been quick to frame the dip in childhood obesity as a turning point. Before, there were only suggestions - hints, really - that efforts to turn around the epidemic were beginning to take root. Now, there's evidence of small declines in obesity rates among very young children, in many parts of the country. Full article
USDA and EPA Launch U.S. Food Waste Challenge: Call on both Public Sector and Private Industry to reduce food waste
WASHINGTON, June 4, 2013 - Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, calling on others across the food chain-including producer groups, processors, manufacturers, retailers, communities, and other government agencies − to join the effort to reduce, recover, and recycle food waste. Secretary Tom Vilsack and EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe were joined at the event by representatives from private-sector partners and supporters including Rio Farms, Unilever, General Mills, the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, Feeding America, and Rock and Wrap It Up!.
Food waste in the United States is estimated at roughly between 30 to 40 percent of the food supply. In 2010, an estimated 133 billion pounds of food from U.S. retail food stores, restaurants, and homes never made it into people's stomachs. The amount of uneaten food in homes and restaurants was valued at almost $390 per U.S. consumer in 2008, more than an average month's worth of food expenditures. Full article
House Republicans to push $40 billion cut to food stamp program
(Reuters) - House Republicans plan to seek a $40 billion cut in food stamps for the poor, the head of the House Agriculture Committee said on Thursday, double the amount previously sought by conservatives.
The plan was quickly condemned by Democrats.
Chairman Frank Lucas said the legislation on food stamps, formally named Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), would be the second part of any talks with the Senate on a new U.S. farm law costing $100 billion a year.
Food stamps, the largest U.S. anti-hunger program, are the pivotal issue for the farm bill. One in seven Americans received food stamps at latest count.
Republicans say the program, whose enrollment soared after the 2008-09 recession, is unbearably expensive at $78 billion a year. Democrats such as Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts say food stamps mitigate hunger in a still-weak economy. Full article
USDA Tests New Methods to Ensure Children Have Health Food during Summer Months
On August 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released an evaluation of the impact of an alternative delivery method for providing low income children with access to food during the summer months when school meals are not available. Authorized and funded by Congress in 2010, the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children (SEBTC) demonstration project is testing the impact of providing a monthly household benefit through existing EBT systems during the summer.
The evaluation report found that the project reduced the prevalence of food insecurity among children by 19 percent, and the prevalence of very low food security among children, the most severe category, by 33 percent, compared to children who did not receive SEBTC benefits. Participating children in households with SEBTC ate more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and dairy foods while consuming fewer sugar-sweetened beverages. Full report
Taco Bell dropping kids meals, toys
Taco Bell will shock the fast-food industry on Tuesday by announcing plans to drop kids meals and toys at all of its U.S. restaurants.
"The future of Taco Bell is not about kids meals," says Taco Bell CEO Greg Creed. "This is about positioning the brand for Millennials."
Somewhere around January 2014, the chain's last kids meal will be sold, he estimates.
Taco Bell emerges as the first national fast-food chain to eliminate kids meals altogether. The meals are a huge lure for kids -- which is why the industry sells more than 1.2 billion of them annually in the U.S., according to Federal Trade Commission data. In 2011, the regional chain Jack-in-the-Box eliminated toys from its kids meals. Full article
NYC Doctors Are Now Prescribing Fruits and Veggies
Doctors typically give patients prescriptions for medications. But a new program in New York City has doctors prescribing fruits and vegetables to obese or overweight patients.
Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley launched the Tuesday. It aims to give at-risk families greater access to healthy foods.
Under the program, obese or overweight patients can be prescribed Health Bucks redeemable for produce at local farmers markets.
Health Bucks are a part of the city's initiative to make locally grown produce available to low-income New Yorkers. The vouchers are accepted at more than 140 New York City farmers markets.
The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program is meant to benefit whole families and communities at a time. Patients in the program receive $1 in Health Bucks per day for each person in their family for a period of at least four months. Each month, patients check in with the hospital to have their prescriptions renewed, and their weight and body mass index evaluated. They also receive nutritional counseling. Full article
Salty snacks, extra pounds send blood pressure soaring in U.S. kids
Spurred by too much salt and too many extra pounds, blood pressure in America's kids and teens has gone sky-high, creating a young generation at risk for serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke -- and worse.
The percentage of American children and adolescents ages 8 to 17 who have high blood pressure -- a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, organ damage, heart attacks and strokes -- climbed 27 percent over 13 years, according to researchers from Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital and other institutions funded by the National Institutes of Health.
The researchers, using two large national surveys, compared blood pressure data of thousands of children from two National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, a government program designed to track health and nutritional status of adults and children in the U.S. During the period 1988 to 1994, 15.8 percent of boys, and 8.2 percent of girls could be classified as having elevated blood pressure. By the next survey period, covering the years 1999-2008, those percentages jumped to 19.2 percent for boys and 12.6 percent for girls.
The new research, published Monday in the journal Hypertension, positively links rising blood pressure to increasing body mass index, especially waist circumference, and sodium intake. In short, far too many American children are too fat and eating too many salty snacks. Full article
Despite Legal Blow, New York To Keep Up Sugary Drink Fight
A state appeals court on Tuesday rejected New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's attempt to limit the size of sugary beverages sold in his city. But in a statement, Bloomberg and the city's top lawyer, Michael Cardozo, called the decision a "temporary setback" and vowed to appeal.
"The Board of Health overstepped the boundaries of its lawfully delegated authority when it promulgated the portion cap rule to curtail the consumption of soda drinks," Justice Dianne T. Renwick wrote in the appeals court ruling. "It therefore violated the state principle of separation of powers."
The decision was a blow for the city's Board of Health, which had met significant opposition from the food and beverage industry for its move to change unhealthful food habits through portion-size regulation.
A lower court judge overturned the ban in March on the grounds that Bloomberg's regulations of the sale of the drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and other food service establishments were "arbitrary and capricious." City officials immediately appealed. Full article