June 2017 Newsletter

Rudd Center Recent Publications

New Weight Bias Study Finds Women More Likely Than Men to Blame Themselves for Weight Stigma

Weight stigma can contribute to obesity, as individuals who experience stigma about their weight often cope with this distress by eating and avoiding exercise, increasing the likelihood of weight gain. Weight stigmatization can also impair emotional wellbeing, contributing to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and body dissatisfaction. Despite higher rates of obesity among women and minority populations compared with white Americans, less is known about differences in weight stigma or strategies for coping with weight stigma across gender and racial groups.

In a new study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut, researchers found that although weight stigma is equally present across different groups (Asian, black and Hispanic, and white men and women), there are differences in how particular groups are likely to respond to being stigmatized.

“We found differences both by gender and race. Women were more likely than men to blame themselves for being stigmatized, while black and Hispanic individuals were less likely to blame themselves for being stigmatized compared with white individuals,” said Mary Himmelstein, a UConn Rudd Center post-doctoral fellow and the study’s lead author.

TV Food Advertising to Kids Still Promotes Unhealthy Foods

Television ads for primarily unhealthy foods and beverages represented more than 75 percent of food-related ads viewed last year by youth, despite a downward trend in food-related ads viewed by children and adolescents, according to a new report from the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

In 2016, fast food was the most advertised category to individuals in all age groups, representing 26 percent of food-related ads viewed by children (ages 2-11) and 31 percent by adolescents (ages 12-17). From 2015 to 2016, children were exposed to 19 percent more ads for carbonated beverages and 38 percent more ads for juice, fruit drinks, and sports drinks.

These are among key findings in the new report – ‘Trends in Television Food Advertising to Young People: 2016 Update’ – which documents trends in food-related TV advertising (i.e., ads for food, beverages, and restaurants) viewed by children and adolescents from 2002 to 2016, focusing on changes from 2015 to 2016. It also examines changes in categories of food and beverages advertised since the Children’s Food & Beverage Advertising Initiative self-regulatory program was implemented in 2007 to “shift the mix of advertising primarily directed at children.”

The report shows that children and adolescents viewed fewer food-related TV ads in 2016 than in 2015, continuing the downward trend that began in 2013 for children and 2012 for adolescents. From 2015 to 2016, food, beverage, and restaurant advertising to children decreased by 4 percent, and decreased by 9 percent to adolescents. Compared to 2007 – the year the Children’s Food & Beverage Advertising Initiative self-regulatory program was implemented by industry – children saw 7 percent fewer ads and adolescents saw 10 percent fewer.

Rudd Center in the News

UConn Today, MedicalXpress and Health News Digest published articles on Rudd Center Post-Doctoral Fellow Mary Himmelstein's new study: Race and gender affect response to weight stigma.

The 2016 update on Trends in Television Food Advertising to Young People, by Rudd Center Research Associate Willie Frazier and Marketing Initiatives Director Jennifer Harris, was featured in June 13 articles in UConn Today and Health News Digest.

Dr. Harris was quoted in a June 20 article in The JAMA Network - Medical News & Perspectives: Junk Food Ads Reach Children Despite Food Industry Self-Regulation.

UConn Rudd Center Director Marlene Schwartz remarked on the potential "power of Beyonce" to get the message out about drinking less soda and more water in a June 23 Politico - Morning Agriculture article: "Researchers Mull How To Get Little Ones Off Sugary Drinks." Reporter Helena Bottemiller Evich covered a gathering of leading researchers and health advocates at the National Academies of Sciences in Washington, D.C., to discuss how to reduce sugary drink consumption among the nation's youngest children. Dr. Schwartz and Dr. Harris attended and presented at the two-day meeting: A Workshop on Strategies to Limit Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption in Young Children: Evaluation of Federal, State, and Local Policies and Programs. Dr. Schwartz presented on Howard County Unsweetened: Policy + Outreach Media = Change. Dr. Harris presented on Marketing Sugary Drinks to Young Children ... And Their Parents.

MedPage Today reached out to leading diet and obesity experts for their thoughts on behavioral and environmental interventions that might best target" the obesity epidemic. The result was a June 2 article that included these suggestions from Dr. Schwartz: "Improving the food environment and making sure that all Americans have enough money to make healthy dietary choices. Changing the food environment includes maintaining the progress that has been made improving school food, menu labeling at restaurants, revising the nutrition facts label to include added sugars, ending unhealthy food marketing targeting children and teenagers, and other strategies to incentivize the food industry to reformulate and improve the nutritional quality of the food they sell."

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health's spring newsletter featured highlighted comments from Dr. Schwartz in a wide-ranging article on "Obesity: Can we stop the epidemic?" She warned against undermining recent expansions and improvements in federal food programs and school meals. "We absolutely cannot undo the progress that we’ve made in helping this generation transition to a healthier diet.”

Dr. Schwartz also appeared on a June 6 WNPR radio show: Gain Some, Lose Some: The Science Behind Successful Weight Loss.

Spanish-language outlet La Prensa carried a June 1 article about UConn Rudd Center Deputy Director Rebecca Puhl's recently published study showing that weight-based teasing in adolescence can lead to weight-related health challenges in adulthood.

News to Chew On

Food Dive
Consumer groups sue FDA for delaying menu labeling
The New FDA Nutritional Facts Label: What's Behind the Delay?
Healthy Food America
Early Evidence Says That Sugary Drink Taxes Are Working
The Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News
Even with sweetened-drinks tax, Philly's food and beverage wages rose in 1st-quarter 2017
Seattle to Become Latest U.S. City to Tax Sugary Drinks
Change in USA food policies could prevent 230,000 heart disease deaths by 2030
The Conversation
Do poor people eat more junk food than wealthier Americans?
Live Science
Weight Bias May Show Up in School Kids As Young As 9
My Statesman - Austin American Statesman
Commentary: Why healthy children's meals should be a national priority
The Washington Post
The surprising number of American adults who think chocolate milk comes from brown cows