October 2015 Newsletter

Rudd Center Recent Publications

Child Care's Role in Fight Against Obesity

A group of University of Connecticut researchers who study child care as an important setting to influence healthy eating habits published a series of findings that can be used to improve child care policies and practices in order to curb childhood obesity. All of the researchers are affiliated with UConn's Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention (CHIP), a multidisciplinary research center that focuses on obesity as a main area of investigation. The researchers' findings are included in six studies published in a special section of the October edition of Childhood Obesity, called "Wellness promotion in child care: Evidence to Action." Because many young children spend more time in child-care settings than any other place except home, influencing young children's diets and physical activity while in child care provides an important opportunity to address childhood obesity. "The findings from these studies inform how out-of-home child care providers can work together with families to reinforce healthy eating and physical activity," said Marlene Schwartz, PhD, an author on two of the studies and Director of the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, which is part of CHIP.

Rudd Center in the News

UConn Today featured an article on Oct. 8 on the six studies published in the special section of Childhood Obesity on early child care's role in the fight against obesity. "Collectively, the articles encourage policymakers to see (early care and education) as a critical partner in the fight against childhood obesity, and represent the current challenges and opportunities to promote nutritious eating and physical activity in young children," Myra Jones-Taylor, Commissioner of the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood, said in the article. Jones-Taylor contributed an editorial accompanying the studies in Childhood Obesity. "Through smart policy and education of children, providers, families, and policy makers, we can not only address childhood obesity, but help set the stage for healthier adults later on in life," she said.

The six UConn CHIP studies on early child care and how it influences children's eating and physical activity were highlighted in Health News Digest on Oct. 9.

Rudd Center Deputy Director Rebecca Puhl, PhD, commented on weight stigmatization by health professionals in an Oct. 29 article in Prevention, "These Women Were Fat-Shamed By Their Doctors - And It Almost Cost Them Their Lives."

The Rudd Center study (published in March) showing children ate more fruit and threw away less of their vegetables and entrees under the updated healthy school lunch standards was cited by NBC's King 5 in an opinion piece Oct. 5, "Healthy school lunches under attack: our view." Amid lobbyist demands, schools continue to struggle to provide healthy, appealing meals for students on a limited budget.

The Huffington Post (The Blog) on Oct. 9 carried a great piece by the Director of the Pew Charitable Trust's child nutrition project, Jessica Donze Black, on the need to keep the revised healthier school meal standards: "Give Schools the Tools to Solve Cafeteria Challenge." She also cited our study on plate waste in schools, as did an article in Think Progress: "The Academic Downside of 'Western' Diets."

Philly.com (via the Philadelphia Inquirer) published an article Oct. 16 by two health professionals who routinely see kids with overweight and obesity. They called on all of us, "as we have done with other harmful consumer products," to "collectively limit the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages for the health of our children." This article cited some of our research on marketing targeted to black and Hispanic youth.

What's Simmering With Our Friends 

The Obesity Society, the Obesity Action Coalition, and the UConn Rudd Center were among more than 35 U.S. health organizations that joined together to form National Obesity Care Week, an annual campaign to advance a comprehensive, compassionate and patient-focused approach to treating obesity as a disease. The inaugural weeklong campaign, Nov. 1-7, 2015, will focus on improving healthcare professionals' understanding of obesity as a disease. The campaign was announced Oct. 20.

Bettina Elias Siegel, The Lunch Tray blogger, wrote in early October about a new McDonald's documentary intended for educational use in schools. As The Lunch Tray describes it, the film - 540 Meals: Choices Make the Difference - "is the company's answer to Super Size Me and features John Cisna, an Iowa science teacher and paid McDonald's 'brand ambassador' who lost weight by eating nothing but McDonald's for six months." Her blog drew media attention and she said she "heard nothing but dismay from people like you regarding McDonald's attempt to get 540 Meals into schools." So she began a petition to pressure McDonald's to keep the film, which she calls "little more than a heavily-branded infomercial," out of our children's schools.

Celebrity chef and healthy food campaigner Jamie Oliver spoke to a committee of British Parliament members Oct. 19 and called on Prime Minister David Cameron to be "as brave as he knows he should be" in addressing the U.K. obesity crisis - including introduction of a 20 percent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The Prime Minister ruled out a sugary drink tax, saying there were more effective ways to deal with the obesity crisis. A Public Health England report called for a tax on sugary drinks as one of eight recommendations for reducing sugar consumption to curb obesity and weight-related illnesses.

News to Chew On

The Hartford Courant (opinion)
Kids Want Healthy Food In School Lunches
The New York Times
The Decline of 'Big Soda'
PBS News Hour
American Academy of Pediatrics decides relationship with Coke is not so sweet
ABC News
Tom Brady Calls Coca-Cola ‘Poison’ for Kids
The Washington Post
When soda companies target minorities, is it exploitation?