January 2020 Newsletter

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Recent Publications

Infant Formula and Toddler Milk Marketing: Opportunities to Address Harmful Practices and Improve Young Children's Diets

Children’s diets in their first 1000 days influence dietary preferences, eating habits, and long-term health, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months and continued breastfeeding through age 1 year or more. In the United States, however, widespread infant formula marketing negatively impacts breastfeeding. In this special article published in Nutrition Reviews, researchers analyze the harmful marketing practices employed by many toddler milk and infant formula companies, and provide ways in which US federal agencies, state and local governments, health providers, and public health organizations can mitigate the spread of misinformation. 

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Distribution of Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Sales Volume by Sugar Content in the United States: Implications for Tiered Taxation and Tax Revenue 

In one of the first studies to assess the distribution of sugar-sweetened beverage sales by sugar content, researchers utilized data on sales volume, brand-level market shares, and sugar content to calculate these differences and provide revenue estimates for a tiered tax, which would tax beverages at different amounts depending on their sugar content. With growing research out of Berkeley, CA showing decreased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages as a result of soda taxes, increased attention has been brought to the use of fiscal policy to curb consumption and prevent negative health outcomes. By analyzing which sugar content thresholds are the most consumed, higher taxes for products in these ranges can further discourage purchases.  

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The Effect of a Food Addiction Explanation Model for Weight Control and Obesity on Weight Stigma 

Research on the extent, nature, and impact of weight stigma suggests that weight stigma has increased over time in adults and children and is associated with negative social and health outcomes. In the case of overweight and obesity, studies show that weight stigma is increased by the belief that weight and obesity are under personal control. In this new study, researchers examined whether using food addiction as an explanation for obesity rather than diet and exercise resulted in lower weight stigma, and found that increasing public understanding of obesity as a biological and environmental health outcome, rather than a personal choice, decreases both experienced weight stigma and the potential for internalized weight bias. 

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Rudd Center In The News

Experts Urge Industry to Work With Schools to Improve Kids' Meals Even as Standards are Rolled Back
Featured: Marlene Schwartz, Director

Calls for More US School Meal Program Funding Following Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act
Featured: Marlene Schwartz, Director

Studies Show Weight Discrimination Permeates the Workplace - but its Legal in 49 States
Featured: Rebecca Puhl, Deputy Director

Is this the Secret to Getting Teens to Reject Junk Food?
Featured: UConn Rudd Center

Healthy Commercial Ads Don't Change Teen's Desire to Eat Junk Food
Featured: Jennifer Harris, Senior Research Advisor, Marketing Initiatives

Unhealthy Drinks Dominate Children's Drink Sales
Featured: Frances Fleming-Milici, Director of Marketing Initiatives; Jennifer Harris, Senior Research Advisor, Marketing Initiatives

On the Menu: Weaker School Nutrition

Sugary Drink FACTS

The USDA announced two proposals earlier this month that if passed, would further weaken nutrition standards set forth in the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act by cutting the amount of fruits and vegetables required at lunch and breakfast. Key components of the proposals include reducing the current fruit requirements at breakfast by 50%, removing whole grain requirements at breakfast, and changing vegetable subgroup requirements to include potatoes and other starchy vegetables. 
 
“The Healthy-Hunger Free Kids act led to meaningful improvements in the quality of school meals, and data support the importance of having strong federal school meal standards,” says Marlene Schwartz, Rudd Center Director. “Nutritious school meals are pivotal in protecting student health, and it is disappointing to see requirements weakened that our research has shown to positively impact the diets of school-aged children.”
 
Days before the announcement of these proposals, the Rudd Center released an editorial in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics documenting significant improvements in the quality of school meals following the implementation of the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA). This editorial also revealed that despite concerns over increased plate waste as a result of fruit and vegetable requirements, early regional studies comparing the proportion of foods consumed before and after the HHFKA implementation found that school plate waste did not increase. In addition, participation rates were 61% in schools that served the healthiest lunches, compared with 50% in schools that served the least healthy lunches.  
 
If finalized, these proposed changes would create a major loophole in school nutrition guidelines, and they would be extremely detrimental to the health of the 30 million children who rely on the National School Lunch Program for nutritious meals. 

What's Simmering With Our Friends?

Childhood Opportunity Index 2.0
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

From neighborhood to neighborhood across the U.S., the opportunity for children to succeed and lead healthy lives differs greatly. For that reason, researchers at Brandeis University’s The Heller School created the Child Opportunity Index 2.0, which uses interactive maps to measure, rank, and map the quality of resources and conditions that matter for children’s healthy development for neighborhoods in America’s 100 largest metro areas.

Eating Healthy at Home
Alliance for a Healthier Generation

Eating Healthy at Home is a new campaign from Healthier Generation’s partnership with Kohl's to help families take small steps to make the healthy choice the easy choice. Families, school representatives, and out-of-school time leaders can now access free tools, recipes, and resources, including a set of Spanish resources.

RIDGE Program Spotlight

The Tufts University/University of Connecticut Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics (RIDGE) Program is a USDA extramural grants program supporting research in economics aimed at understanding and enhancing the nation’s nutrition assistance programs. RIDGE is releasing a series of briefs highlighting grantee work. 

The most recent focuses on new research by Rebecca Franckle and Eric Rimm at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Their RIDGE project examines SNAP spending across the benefit month by food categories and looks at popular support for policy changes that could affect deleterious spending patterns. Read the full RIDGE Program Spotlight here.

News to Chew On

Politico
How Baltimore Is Experimenting Its Way Out of the Food Desert

The Guardian
Coke, Crisps, Convenience: How Ads Created a Global Junk Food Generation
 
The Washington Post
More Pizza, Fewer Vegetables: Trump Administration Further Undercuts Obama School-Lunch Rules
 
The New York Times
What Happened When a State Made Food Stamps Harder to Get

Food Dive
Will Removing Cartoon Characters from Cereal Boxes Change Consumers' Focus?

The Guardian
Teenagers Campaign for Traffic Light Labels on Food Packaging

USA Today
How Healthy is Your State? These are the 20 States that Rank as the Healthiest in the US