December 2014 Digest Archive

Rudd Center Welcomes New Year at the University of Connecticut

The Rudd Center will move to the University of Connecticut (UConn) next month. The Center will relocate to Constitution Plaza in Hartford.

The move is one of the first major initiatives of UConn’s Academic Vision, which prioritizes health and wellness research as an integral part of the University’s mission.

Center staff and faculty look forward to a successful new year and increased opportunities to collaborate with the UConn community.  

FDA Announces Menu Labeling Regulation

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized regulation requiring chain restaurants and other retailers that sell prepared foods to put calorie labels on their menus and menu boards.

The new rules, which are part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, establish a national standard for restaurant chains with 20 or more outlets. The rules pre-empt existing state laws.

Under the new regulation, calories must be displayed on all menus and menu boards. Other nutritional information, such as calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars and protein, must be available in writing upon request.

"Research shows that Americans consume about one-third of their calories away from home,” said Marlene Schwartz, PhD, Rudd Center Director. “By providing calorie counts on menus and menu boards, consumers will have the information they need to make informed choices."

Restaurants and other food establishments will have one year to comply with the menu labeling requirements.

In addition, vending machine operators who own or operate 20 or more vending machines must disclose calorie information on their vending machines. They will have two years to comply with the requirements.

Health experts assert the new requirements will help address the obesity epidemic by showing Americans how many calories are in the meals they eat outside of the home.  

Children’s Health Advocates to Candy Makers: Stop Marketing Junk Food to Kids

Members of the Food Marketing Workgroup, including the Rudd Center, are urging Tootsie Roll Industries, as well as four other candy manufacturers, to do their part to curb childhood obesity and stop marketing unhealthy foods to children and to participate in a self-regulatory program that monitors food advertising aimed at kids.

The nation’s three biggest candy companies, Hershey, Mars, and Nestlé, already belong to the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), which is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. However, Tootsie Roll, as well as the American Licorice Company, Haribo of America, Perfetti Van Melle, and The Topps Company do not participate.

"Advertising products that promote diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay to impressionable toddlers watching My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake is completely outside the boundaries of responsible corporate behavior," said Center for Science in the Public Interest Nutrition Policy Director Margo G. Wootan, in a CSPI issued press release. "More responsible companies like Hershey, Mars, and Nestlé agreed long ago to not place ads in children’s programming, but Tootsie Roll Industries is years behind."

The CFBAI Initiative is a voluntary self-regulation program[bbb.org] comprising many of the nation's largest food and beverage companies. The Initiative is designed to shift the mix of foods advertised to children under 12 to encourage healthier dietary choices and healthy lifestyles.

Consumer, Child Health, and Privacy Groups Urge FTC to Investigate Topps Company for Violating COPPA 

The Rudd Center recently signed onto a complaint, drafted by the Georgetown University Law Center and the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate The Topps Company, Inc. (maker of Ring Pops) for various violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

According to the CDD, Topps uses its child-directed website Candymania.com and social media to promote Ring Pops, a candy that appeals to children. The #RockThatRock contest encouraged children to post photos of themselves wearing Ring Pops on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for a chance to have their photo used in a music video with tween band R5. Topps used several photos of children who were clearly under age.

The video is available on both Candymania and YouTube and has been viewed almost 900,000 times. Long after the contest ended, Topps continued to display children’s photos and contact information submitted using the #RockThatRock hashtag on the Ring Pop Facebook page.

The CDD asserts that Topps made no effort to provide notice to parents about the information collected, or to obtain advance, verifiable parental consent as required by the COPPA rule.

In addition, says the CDD, Topps violated the COPPA rule by failing to post its children’s privacy policy in a prominent manner, failing to provide a complete and understandable privacy policy, conditioning a child’s participation in the contest on disclosing more information than was reasonably necessary, and retaining children’s personal information for longer than reasonably necessary.  

New Report Ranks America’s Health

Obesity and physical inactivity are the top health and health-related problems in the U.S., according to a new report from the United Health Foundation, the American Public Health Association, and Partnership for Prevention.

Now in its 25th year, the annual America's Health Rankings report is the nation's longest running, state-by-state snapshot of Americans’ health. According to the report, about one-third of U.S. adults said they were obese, and nearly a quarter said they had not participated in any physical activity or exercise within the past month.

The report also shows that the rate of type 2 diabetes has increased over time. Ten-percent of Americans now say they have the diet-related disease.