September 2015 Newsletter

Rudd Center Recent Publications

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Succeeding But Efforts Needed to Improve Nutrition Quality

The federal Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as the food stamp program, is successful in alleviating hunger and helping lower-income Americans afford enough calories, according to a new study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut. The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that the amount of calories consumed is about the same for SNAP participants compared to higher-income Americans. However, according to lead study author Tatiana Andreyeva, the Rudd Center's Director of Economic Initiatives, "... SNAP participants' diets are of lower nutritional quality than those of income-eligible and higher-income non participants." This new comprehensive review, she said, can help SNAP advocates and policy makers ensure that future policies related to this vital food assistance program address dietary quality while continuing to reduce food insecurity.

Children's Exposure to TV Ads for Candy Increased Substantially After Companies Promised Not to Advertise to Kids

Despite voluntary pledges from candy makers not to advertise to children 11 and under, children viewed substantially more TV ads for candy than they did four years earlier, when the promises went into effect, according to a new study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut. From 2008 to 2011, children's exposure to candy ads on U.S. TV increased 74 percent, according to the study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Rudd Foundation, and published in the journal Appetite. "Although companies that belong to the (voluntary program) publicly state that candy should not be advertised directly to children, these findings clearly demonstrate that they have found many ways to advertise candy to children without technically violating their pledges not to do so," said Jennifer Harris, the study's lead author and the Rudd Center's Director of Marketing Initiatives.

Rudd Center in the News

Time magazine featured our new study on children's exposure to TV ads for candy, in a Sept. 10 article headlined, "Kids See More Candy Ads on TV Now Than in The Past." The study shows that candy companies were exploiting loopholes in the voluntary pledges they made not to advertise candy to young children, and the need for tightening the definition of child-directed advertising so that the pledges are meaningful.

UConn Today published a Sept. 11 piece on the report, "Empty Promises: Kids' Exposure to TV Ads for Candy." Medical Daily also covered the new report on Sept. 11. Study author and Rudd Center Research Associate Megan LoDolce was quoted, "Despite candy companies' promises in 2007 to not advertise to children under 12 on TV, children saw substantially more."

MSN ran a Sept. 8 article on how fat-shaming can lead to weight gain. Rudd Center Deputy Director Rebecca Puhl is quoted in this story, "Stigma and discrimination are really stressors, and, unfortunately, for many people, they're chronic stressors. And we know that eating is a common reaction to stress and anxiety --- that people often engage in more food consumption or more binge eating in response to stressors, so there is a logical connection here in terms of some of the maladaptive coping strategies to try to deal with the stress of being stigmatized." New York Magazine published the story on Sept. 8.

Slate published an article on fat-shaming on Sept. 11, explaining how weight bias and stigma can impact health and behaviors. "When people are made to feel stigmatized or shamed, they are more likely to turn to food or avoid physical activity," Dr. Puhl said in the piece. "Individual choices and behavior are small pieces in a larger puzzle, and if we focus on them we're ignoring everything else."

Rudd Center Director Marlene Schwartz commented in a Sept. 10 CNN Money article on the staggering number of school children receiving free lunch. "I think that the people that are trying to make those small amounts of money stretch and feed all of these children have one of the hardest jobs...It would be great if there was more funding for them."

The Washington Post published a Sept. 13 editorial, "Don't let lobbyists decide what your children eat at school," citing our recent study showing kids are eating healthier and throwing out less food since updated school meal standards took effect.

What's Simmering With Our Friends 

The Inside Track newsletter published an article by Rudd Center Communication Director Dan Jones on Hartford's breastfeeding peer-counseling program. The program, a collaboration of the Hispanic Health Council and Hartford Hospital, is expanding city-wide. The Institute of Medicine and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognize Breastfeeding: Heritage and Pride as a model for establishing an effective peer-support program. Research has shown that breastfeeding may reduce a child's risk for developing obesity, and the CDC promotes breastfeeding as one of the steps the nation can take to address childhood obesity.

Voices for Healthy Kids released "Transforming Communities, Changing Lives," a 2015 report highlighting progress made in communities across the country to help children achieve a healthy weight, provide healthier school snacks and increase access to safe play areas. Read the full report here.

News to Chew On

Business Insider
Coke doesn’t think it has a sugar problem
Daily Mail (UK)
Would you let your kid eat a 1,400-CALORIE sandwich?
Civil Eats
Why Food Belongs in Our Discussions of Race
USA Today
Kids consume 12% of their calories from fast food, study shows
Yuma News Now
Schools Serving, Kids Eating Healthier School Meals Thanks to Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act