April 2015 Newsletter

Rudd Center Recent Publications

Weight Bias

A new multinational study by the Rudd Center published online April 28 in the International Journal of Obesity found similar levels of weight bias across four Western countries, including the United States. Despite high rates of obesity in each of the countries - Australia, Canada, Iceland and the U.S. - negative biases against individuals with obesity are clearly present, and more often expressed by those who believe obesity reflects poor willpower or lack of personal responsibility, according to the study. "We hope this research can stimulate broader discussions about weight bias and ways to reduce unfair treatment based on body size," said lead author Rebecca Puhl, Deputy Director of the Rudd Center.

TV Food Advertising to Children

The Rudd Center has updated its previous reports on food-related TV ads viewed by children and adolescents to include 2014 data. Trends in Television Food Advertising to Young People: 2014 Update shows that categories with more advertising to youth in 2014, compared to 2007, included candy, carbonated beverages, fast-food and other restaurants, and crackers and savory snacks, as well as yogurt and other dairy. Ads for bottled water and fruits and vegetables also increased, but these categories each represented less than two percent of food ads seen by youth.

Rudd Center in the News

An April 23 article in MultiBriefs: Exclusive, an online international news site, highlighted the Rudd Center's recent study on the emerging evidence showing that energy drinks pose a public health threat to children under 18.

A Huffpost Parents piece posted April 16 on The Blog by a dietitian and mother of two included five lessons she vowed to teach her children about weight and body shape - to help "inch away from weight stigma, weight bullying, disordered eating, eating disorders and body dissatisfaction, all of which compromise the mental and physical health of people everywhere." The piece cites Rudd's report, "Weight Bias: A Social Justice Issue."

The Plate, a National Geographic feature on food, published an article April 15 on the topic of taxing sugary drinks and junk food, citing the Rudd Center's report finding that sugar-sweetened beverages are a major source of daily calories, especially for kids ages 2-18.

If other jurisdictions want to follow the Navajo Nation's success in enacting a "junk food tax," they will need to tap into grassroots power and tout similar taxes as positive, not punitive, measures, according to experts including Renee Gross, coordinator of legal initiatives for the UConn Rudd Center. Gross noted in an April 7 article in Law360 that the Navajo Nation couched its tax within a human rights framework, which gave it a loftier purpose and set it apart from similar initiatives floated by other communities.

The Hill carried a piece by a University of Pennsylvania researcher about a study that reinforced our findings that parents can be misled about the healthfulness of beverages they provide to their children. "And with $784 million spent on advertising to promote sugary drinks," the April 6 article noted, "it is no wonder parents are confused."

UConn Rudd Center Director Marlene Schwartz was interviewed at length about her study showing that students can eat healthier and waste less with the updated federal school lunch standards. Her interview was the focus of an April 6 Inside School Food radio program, "Reading plate waste."

What's Simmering With Our Friends 

Prominent child and consumer advocacy groups have urged the FTC to investigate Google, citing deceptive advertising targeting children. The complaint letter from groups including Center for Science in the Public Interest and Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood alleges that at least three examples of unfair marketing have been found in the YouTube Kids app. Common Dreams reported on the complaint.

Salud Today featured an article and petition urging Taco Bell to stop selling sugary drinks to its customers. Taco Bell recently added six new sugary drinks to their menu including Manzanita Sol which has 56 grams of sugar in a 16-ounce drink – well over the daily limit recommended for children.

Voices for Healthy Kids publicized an American Heart Association news article on a congressional hearing in which advocates who support healthier school meals urged lawmakers not to retreat from the USDA's new standards.

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution launched a petition drive to gain support for compulsory practical food education across the world, and obtained more than 600,000 signatures the first week.

Leading public health researchers and scientists announced their support for proposed legislation in New York and California to require warning labels on sugary drinks to alert consumers to health risks related to excessive consumption. The group was organized by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy. CSPI featured an article on the announcement.

News to Chew On

Bloomberg Business
Highlighting the obesity-competency bias
America: Too Fat to Fight
Daily Mail
Sugar blamed for obesity epidemic
Epoch Times
Fast Food Being Sold in Dozens of US Hospitals
Is It Time For A Warning Label On Sugar-Loaded Drinks?