August 2017 Newsletter

Rudd Center Recent Publications

Are fast-food restaurants keeping their promises to offer healthier kids' meals? New study finds the answer is "sometimes."

A new study evaluating major U.S. fast-food restaurant chains’ pledges to offer healthier kids’ meal drinks and sides shows inconsistent implementation at the chains’ individual restaurant locations. Moreover, promotion of healthier items varied widely between the chains examined, according to a new report from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut.

“Since 2013, the fast-food restaurants we examined have made changes to offer and promote healthier drink and side options for kids’ meals. Still, about one-third of menu boards inside the restaurants we examined continued to list sugary soda and other soft drinks as an option for kids’ meals. And perhaps more importantly, there was wide variation in whether customers were offered the healthier options when they ordered a kids’ meal,” said Jennifer Harris, Director of Marketing Initiatives for the UConn Rudd Center, and lead author of the report.

“Some personnel at all the chains examined continued to give customers a cup for a soft drink and/or french fries with kids’ meal orders without offering any healthier options, despite the pledges,” Harris said.

Rudd Center in the News

UConn Rudd Center Deputy Director Rebecca Puhl's research on the harm that weight stigma can cause was cited in an August 21 article by Jane Brody in The New York Times: Fat Bias Starts Early and Takes a Serious Toll.

El Norte, a Monterrey, Mexico, newspaper published The New York Times article August 25: Damaging prejudices against obesity.

Dr. Puhl's recent study showing that weight-based teasing in adolescence predicts health consequences in adulthood was highlighted in an August 17 article in U.S. News & World Report: 6 Strategies for Helping a Teen Who's Being Bullied About His or Her Weight.

The Harvard Gazette included Dr. Puhl's comments in an August 22 article: The Scarlet F: Why fat shaming harms health, and how we can change the conversation.

The Rudd Center's new evaluation of fast-food chains' promises to offer healthier kids' meals was featured in an August 10 USA Today article that was published by dozens of media outlets around the country, reaching more than 30 million Americans: Fast-food restaurants pledged to offer healthier options for kids. How have they done? The Hearst Media chain of news outlets in Connecticut and several other states carried an August 10 article on the study led by Marketing Initiatives Director Jennifer Harris: Study of fast food options for kids yields mixed results.

UConn Communications' Bret Eckhardt created a "Science in Seconds" video on the study featuring Dr. Harris. Watch it on YouTube: The Truth about Fast Food - Kids' Meals.

Fast-Food Restaurants Not Promoting Healthy Kids' Meal Options was the headline of UConn Today's August 10 article about the new report.

NPR's Allison Aubrey interviewed Dr. Harris for an August 10 radio spot about her study evaluating fast-food chains' pledges. Unfortunately, there was no archived podcast.

Dr. Harris was interviewed live August 25 on CBS Connecticut radio, WTIC News Talk 1080 - This Morning with Ray Dunaway: Are Sports Drinks Good for Children and Teens? A week earlier, Dr. Harris appeared on a Canadian radio show, Newstalk 770 Radio - The Morning News (Calgary, Alberta): What Does Research say About Advertising Foods to Kids.

What's Simmering With Our Friends

Every Child Needs

A new campaign—Every Child Needs—is shedding light on what communities and schools need to create healthy environments to help children succeed. Twenty organizations (including the UConn Rudd Center), which are improving nutrition and increasing physical activity among children, are working together to underscore that every child needs a healthy start, healthy schools, and healthy communities in order to build a foundation for a healthy future. The initiative is led by Voices for Healthy Kids.

A Campaign to Empower Moms

The You’re the Mom campaign, developed by ChildObesity180 at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, empowers moms to take small steps to make healthy eating fun and easy for their kids. It celebrates moms for the important role they play in their families and communities, and provides ideas and tips for making healthier choices for their kids when they eat in restaurants. Check out this overview and find out how to bring the campaign to your own community!

America's Healthiest Schools

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation announced August 8 that it recognized 323 schools around the country as America's Healthiest Schools in 2017. These schools met rigorous criteria for serving healthier meals and snacks, getting students moving more, offering high-quality physical and health education, and empowering school leaders to become healthy role models. Each recognized school participates in Healthier Generation’s landmark Healthy Schools Program—one of the nation’s largest school-based childhood obesity prevention initiatives—which has worked with more than 35,000 schools serving over 20 million students since 2006.

UConn Opens New Downtown Hartford Campus

After years of planning, the new downtown UConn Hartford campus opened Wednesday, August 23, to the cheers of scores of onlookers who gathered at 10 Prospect St., where the campus is anchored at the historic Hartford Times building. “UConn Hartford is not only brick, mortar, and steel. It is a living, breathing institution at the core of this city,” UConn President Susan Herbst said at the dedication. “It will be part of the backbone of Hartford: a place of learning, engagement, and discovery, and a vibrant part of this neighborhood and the capital city as a whole."

The Rudd Center moved to UConn, and has been in downtown Hartford, since 2015. We welcome our new UConn neighbors.

News to Chew On

The Daily Yonder
SNAP Plays Outsized Role in the Economy of Rural Grocery Stores
Fierce Healthcare
To fight obesity, end physician fat-shaming, bias
Science News Online
Study Finds Promise in New Tactic to Curb Obesity: Address Physician Bias
No, poor people don't eat more junk food than everyone else
Berkeley requires kids' meals to include milk or water, not soda
The San Francisco Chronicle (AP)
Bloomberg funds $2 million in ads backing soda tax
Crain's New York Business
The FDA is going after New York over its calorie-counting rules
The Washington Post
Why our schools can't get kids to eat healthy
USA Today
Over 45,000 pounds of sugar dumped in Times Square illustrates alarming child health trend