Press Releases

11/20/2019: 70% of Teens Surveyed Engaged with Food and Beverage Brands on Social Media in 2017

70% of teens surveyed report engaging with food and beverage brands on social media and 35% engaged with at least five brands, according to a new study from the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity published in the journal Appetite. The study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found that 93 percent of the brands that teens reported engaging with on social media were fast food, unhealthy snack foods, candy, and sugary drinks, which are primarily the brands that target them with traditional forms of advertising.

Researchers recommend that food and beverage manufacturers stop targeting teens with marketing for products that can harm their health. Currently, the food and beverage companies’ voluntary self-regulatory program, the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, only limits unhealthy advertising to children up to 11 years old. Researchers say the program should cover children up to at least 14 years old.

11/05/2019: Sexual Minority and Heterosexual Adults Face Similar Experiences of Weight Stigma

Individuals who experience weight stigma are commonly stereotyped as lazy or lacking willpower, and they can face unfair treatment because of their weight. Some individuals who experience weight stigma may also internalize these negative attitudes, blaming and devaluing themselves and having lower self-worth because of their weight. While there has been increasing attention to this issue by researchers and health professionals, weight stigma has received almost no attention in sexual minorities despite increased rates of obesity and higher risk for stigma among this population. 

The study focused on more than 18,000 US adults enrolled in the WW program (formerly Weight Watchers) who completed surveys about their experiences of weight stigma, health behaviors, and quality of life. In total, 658 participants who identified themselves as a sexual minority were compared to 658 participants who identified themselves as heterosexual, matched on characteristics of sex, race, body weight, age, and education. Findings showed that regardless of sexual orientation, more than two-thirds of respondents reported experiencing weight stigma at some point in their life.

10/16/2019: Sweetened Drinks Represented 62% of Children's Drink Sales in 2018

Fruit drinks and flavored waters that contain added sugars and/or low-calorie (diet) sweeteners dominated sales of drinks intended for children in 2018, making up 62% of the $2.2 billion in total children’s drink sales, according to Children’s Drink FACTS 2019, a new report from the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut. 

Researchers assessed the top-selling brands of children’s drinks—including 34 sweetened drinks (fruit drinks, flavored waters, and drink mixes) and 33 drinks without added sweeteners (100% juice, juicewater blends, and one sparkling water)—analyzing sales, advertising spending, children’s exposure to TV advertising, nutritional content, and product packaging. Findings indicate one-third of all children’s fruit drinks contained 16 grams or more of sugar per serving— equivalent to 4 teaspoons, which is more than half of the maximum amount of added sugars experts recommend for children per day. 

06/28/2019: Weight-Based Bullying Among LGBTQ Youth Association With Increased Frequency of Binge Eating, Unhealthy Weight Control, and Poor Weight-Related Health

Approximately 20% of U.S. adolescents have obesity, and sexual minority females are even more likely to have higher body weight compared to their heterosexual peers, making them particularly vulnerable to weight-based teasing and bullying. While recent evidence suggests that many LGBTQ youth report experiencing weight-based bullying, this is the first study to examine how weight bullying affects eating behaviors, dieting, and weight-related health among this population.

The study, published in Appetite, is the first large-scale evidence of links between weight-based bullying, unhealthy eating behaviors, and weight-related health in LGBTQ youth, with findings revealing that LGBTQ youth who are teased or bullied about their body weight are more likely to engage in unhealthy eating behaviors, such as binge eating, unhealthy weight control, and dieting, and to have poor weightrelated health, 

06/03/2019: Increased Substance Use and Poorer Mental Health Found Among LGBTQ Adolescents Experiencing Weight-Based Bullying

Research has found that weight-based victimization contributes to poor health in youth, including substance use and poorer emotional well-being. However, the harms of weight-based victimization have received almost no attention in LGBTQ youth, despite high rates of obesity and high risk for victimization and psychological distress. The study, published in Health Psychology, reports on findings from over 9,000 LGBTQ adolescents across the country who completed questionnaires examining their experiences of victimization, health, family relationships and school experiences. 

Study findings showed that LGBTQ youth who reported being teased or bullied about their weight had increased risk of alcohol use, binge drinking, marijuana use, cigarette use, as well as poorer self-rated health, higher depressive symptoms, and lower self-esteem. These findings persisted regardless of adolescents' demographic characteristics, body weight, sexual identity, gender identity, and sexual or gender minority victimization. 

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