April 2016 Newsletter

Rudd Center Recent Publications

Support Increasing for State and Federal Laws To Protect Children From Weight-Based Bullying

Parental support for enactment of laws and policies to protect youth from weight-based bullying is strong and has increased over the past two years, according to a study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut. All 50 states have anti-bullying laws and many school districts have anti-bullying policies, yet body weight is often overlooked. "Our new findings suggest that parental support for improved legal protections against weight-based bullying is present, consistent and strong," said Rebecca Puhl, the lead study author and Deputy Director of the Rudd Center. "Parental voices can be influential in mobilizing advocacy efforts, and enacting policy change affecting children's health." The study was published online April 26 in Pediatric Obesity.

Americans Back Measures to Prohibit Weight Discrimination

Dr. Puhl also was the lead author of a UConn Rudd Center study showing that public support for laws to prohibit weight discrimination has increased over the past two years, compared to levels of support found in a previous survey. The findings were published in the International Journal of Obesity. Of particular note is the significant increase in support for measures to extend disability protections for individuals with obesity and add body weight as a protected class in civil rights laws, Dr. Puhl noted in her conclusion. "Although previous studies suggest that women are more likely than men to support anti-discrimination laws, the present findings suggest that men may be becoming more supportive of these measures," she wrote. "Similarly, compared with previous research documenting higher support for these laws among liberals, we found no significant differences between liberals and conservatives in support for laws addressing weight discrimination in employment and civil rights statutes." This finding could motivate bipartisan political will to pursue passage of anti-discrimination legislation.

Rudd Center in the News

The UConn Rudd Center's Snack FACTS 2015 report was cited in a Huffpost Healthy Living blog about a study showing that teens frequently share photos of unhealthy foods and beverages on Instagram, many of them branded products. The April 13 blog post included a key point from our report: "As social media sites enlist teens to market unhealthy products virally to their friends this form of marketing raises additional concerns among health experts."

The Connecticut Post's health writer, Amanda Cuda, wrote a thorough article on the Rudd Center's new study showing increased parental support for legal measures to address weight-based bullying of children and teens. The piece appeared in several Hearst Media papers April 26 and 27.

The study on parental support for laws and policies to protect youth from weight-based bullying was featured in UConn Today on April 26.

Our study published in March 2015 showing that middle school students ate more fruit and threw away less of their entrees after healthier national meal standards took effect was highlighted in an April 14 Issue Brief by The Pew Charitable Trusts and its Kids' Safe and Healthful Foods Project.

What's Simmering With Our Friends 

With funding from Healthy Food America, researchers from Harvard's CHOICES project examined the potential health impact of Philadelphia's proposed tax on sugary drinks. Their model projects 36,000 fewer people with obesity by the end of 2025, with the tax compared to without the tax, and lower estimated health care costs with savings of nearly $200 million. "It is just a total winner of a policy from a public health standpoint," researcher Steven Gortmaker told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The April edition of the Food Research & Action Center's newsletter focused on obesity and poverty, "looking at the intersection of obesity, low income, food insecurity, the federal nutrition programs, and federal food and nutrition policy." The Research Highlights in the newsletter included our recent study that found that middle school students who eat breakfast at home and another breakfast at school are less likely to have unhealthy weight gain than students who skip breakfast.

NEW! Food Marketing Presentations Available for Download

Did you know that the food industry spends $1.8 billion dollars each year targeting children and teens with food marketing for almost exclusively unhealthy foods and beverages? Find out how unhealthy food is marketed to youth in schools, communities, and digitally in these presentations:

It's easy: download a presentation, customize as needed, and share! Our vision is that these presentations will be used to increase awareness of unhealthy food and beverage marketing, and inspire collective action to make positive change, so that the healthy choice is the easy choice for kids and families.

News to Chew On

The Philadelphia Inquirer
Harvard Study: Soda tax would make Philadelphia healthier
The Huffington Post
Larger Serving Sizes On Food Labels May Encourage Us to Eat Less
The Lunch Tray (blog)
BREAKING: House School Food Bill Is “Everything Health Advocates Feared”
The Christian Science Monitor
How much longer will Coca-Cola and Pepsi be 'soda' companies?
The Washington Post
Americans' junk food habits start in toddler years. At age 1, we eat fries and brownies - but few veggies