Press Releases

12/11/2017: Preschoolers Still See TV Food Commercials Even Though Companies Promised Not to Direct Their Advertising to Children Under Six

Preschool children ages 2 to 5 continue to view TV ads for foods and beverages daily, revealing a loophole in major food companies' pledges that they will not direct any advertising to children under 6, according to a new study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut.

The study also showed that the advertisements appeal to children under 6 as much as they appeal to older children 9 (ages 6-11) who companies say they are directing their ads towards. In addition, preschoolers were less likely to have tried the advertised products before seeing the ads, which research has shown makes them more susceptible to the influence of these ads.


11/20/2017: American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement Calls For Improved Care, Advocacy to Address Weight Stigma

Being teased or bullied about weight is one of the most common reasons that youth are victimized, and these experiences have serious consequences for emotional and physical health. With high rates of overweight and obesity in America’s youth, millions are vulnerable to weight stigma and its harmful effects.

In response to this widespread problem, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued its first policy statement on weight stigma. The academy’s policy, published today in Pediatrics, seeks to raise awareness about the negative effects of weight stigma on youth, and provides clinical practice and advocacy recommendations for health professionals to help reduce weight stigma in the medical setting and the broader community. “This policy statement is a call to action to encourage pediatric professionals to address weight bias as part of their efforts to improve the quality of life for vulnerable youth and adolescents,” said Rebecca Puhl, an author of the policy statement. Puhl is Deputy Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut, and Professor of Human Development and Family Studies. 

11/14/2017: Food Swamps Predict Obesity Rates Better Than Food Deserts, Study Shows

Food deserts or neighborhoods with limited access to affordable, nutritious food have been identified as one possible driver of the nation's obesity epidemic. However, a new study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut suggests that living in a food swamp - defined as a neighborhood where fast food and junk food outlets inundate healthy alternatives - is a stronger predictor of high obesity rates.

This new study is the first to compare food swamps to food deserts, and measure their association with obesity rates using national, county-level data. Importantly, the results show that food swamps are distinct from food deserts. This has policy implications for local communities interested in stemming rising obesity and promoting health equity.


11/09/2017: The Ways that People Cope with Weight Stigma May Have Important Health Implications

Considerable evidence has linked the experience of being teased or bullied because of weight to poor health. Yet few studies have explored how individuals cope with being mistreated because of their weight, or the role that coping responses to weight stigma may play in health outcomes. The findings of a new study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut show that coping responses to weight stigma help explain why experiencing weight stigma can affect negative or positive health outcomes. Coping with weight stigma by engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviors (like exercise or eating healthy foods) was associated with better health, including greater self-esteem, better physical and psychological wellbeing, and less frequent depressive symptoms. Responding to weight stigma with negative emotions and maladaptive eating (such as starving, bingeing or purging) were linked with more depressive symptoms, lower selfesteem and worse physical and emotional health, according to the study. 

11/06/2017: Food Industry Making Progress to Reduce Ads to Kids, But Most Food Advertising to Children Remains Unhealthy

Children are viewing less food-related advertising, especially on children’s TV and the internet, since the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) industry self-regulatory program was launched in 2007, according to a new study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut. As part of the voluntary Initiative, major food and beverage companies pledged to shift the mix of foods advertised to children under 12 to encourage healthier dietary choices.

Yet children still see 10 to 11 food-related TV ads per day, promoting mostly unhealthy products including fast food, candy, sweet and salty snacks, and sugary drinks. Moreover, the majority of CFBAI companies have not responded to repeated calls from public health experts to further strengthen nutrition standards for products they identify as healthier dietary choices that can be advertised directly to children, expand the Initiative to cover children up to at least 14 years old, and expand the types of media covered by their pledges to include programming that children frequently view as well as all forms of marketing that appeal to children, such as mobile apps with branded games and YouTube videos.

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