May 2020 Newsletter

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Recent Publications

The Relationship Between Written District Policies and School Practices Among High-Need Districts in New York State

Over the past 15 years, schools in the United States have expanded their role in efforts to improve children’s nutrition, physical activity levels, and overall health. For districts participating in federal meal programs, written wellness policies are required to guide these efforts to improve nutrition education, food available at school, and physical activity. A key research question, however, is whether a strong and comprehensive written policy at the district level impacts the likelihood that wellness practices are implemented in schools. 

The study, conducted in partnership with New York’s Creating Healthy Schools and Communities (CHSC) program, assessed written wellness policies and building level practices for schools within high-need New York districts, and found that schools within districts with strong policies were nearly twice as likely to implement overall wellness practices compared to schools in districts with weak policies or no policies at all. 

Read the full study here

Experiences of Weight Stigma and Links with Self-Compassion Among a Population-Based Sample of Young Adults From Diverse Ethnic/Racial and Socio-Economic Backgrounds

Estimates indicate that approximately 40% of US adults report a history of experiencing some form of weight stigma. These estimates, however, have not examined weight stigma in ethnically and economically diverse populations. Relatedly, resources for coping with weight stigma are especially important for ethnic minority and low-resource communities, who face adversities in addition to their body weight. One coping mechanism is self-compassion, or one’s ability to apply kindness to oneself during times of stress, judgement, or personal inadequacies, but it has received little attention in research on weight stigma.
This study examined weight stigma and self-compassion in young adults with diverse racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds and found that over one third of participants reported experiences of weight teasing, and both men and women who experienced weight stigma had lower self-kindness.

Read the full study here. 

Rudd Center In The News

When Deciding Whether to Breastfeed or Use Formula, Experts Say Ignore the Marketing
Featured: Jennifer Harris, Senior Research Advisor, Marketing Initiatives

School Wellness Policies Key to Ensuring New York Schools Adopt Healthier Nutrition and Exercise Standards
Featured: Marlene Schwartz, Director

What's Simmering With Our Friends?

Principles to Help States Open and Recover
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

To help state and local leaders with their reopening and recovery efforts, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released five principles as a compass to point leaders to an equitable and lasting recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
They include:

  • Collect, analyze and report disaggregated data.
  • Include those who are most affected in decisions, and benchmark progress.
  • Establish and empower teams dedicated to racial equity.
  • Proactively fill policy gaps while advocating for more federal support.
  • Invest in public health, health care and social infrastructure.

Read more here. 

Call for COVID-19 Related Projects
Healthy Eating Research

Healthy Eating Research has a limited amount of rapid-response research funds available for issue briefs, research reviews, and small studies to explore the impact of COVID-19 on nutrition and diet quality, food security, and related health consequences for children and families. This funding opportunity is focused on USDA Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs serving children and families, with the goal of informing decision-making regarding innovation policies or programs during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis through July 1, 2020 or until all available funds have been commissioned. 

Read the full funding announcement for a brief description of topics of interest, as well as study parameters. 

Scientific Statement on Healthy Eating Behaviors in Children
American Heart Association

Although many children are born with an innate ability to stop eating when they are full, they are also influenced by the overall emotional atmosphere, including caregiver wishes and demands during mealtimes. If children feel under pressure to eat in response to caregiver wants, it may be harder for them to listen to their individual internal cues that tell them when they are full. A new scientific statement published in the Journal of the American Heart Association is the first from the American Heart Association focused on providing evidence-based strategies for parents and caregivers to support the development of positive eating behaviors and the maintenance of a healthy weight in childhood.

Read the full statement here.  

New Recipe: Department of Education Grant

As states continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, local school districts are implementing a variety of strategies to continue to provide meals. This month, Rudd Center Director, Marlene Schwartz, and UConn Collaboratory on School and Child Health Co-Director, Sandra Chafouleas, have been awarded a new grant from the Connecticut State Department of Education to examine how school food service leaders overcame challenges and created innovative local partnerships to continue to provide food for students and families. Schwartz notes, “After school buildings closed, it quickly became clear that our food safety net is fragmented, which creates obstacles for families. The aim of this study is to better understand the creative and flexible strategies that were developed in real time in Connecticut by school districts and partners, and highlight those partnerships with schools that worked particularly well.”  

Read the full grant proposal here

News to Chew On

NY Times
Hunger Program’s Slow Start Leaves Millions of Children Waiting

Food Banks Get The Love, But SNAP Does More to Fight Hunger
Civil Eats
Community Food Co-ops Are Thriving During the Pandemic
Washington Post
FDA Rolls Back Food Rules for 5th Time During Pandemic

Huffington Post
Food Fraud is Real. Here’s How to Detect Mislabeled Foods.

Why Coronavirus is Causing a Massive Amount of Food Waste

Food Navigator
Beyond Sugar and Salt Reformulation: The Case for ‘Positive Nutrition’ Targets to Help Curb Obesity

NBC News
Opinion: COVID-19 Diet Memes Aren't Funny. And Coronavirus Fat Shaming Hurts Everyone.