Press Releases

03/12/2020: Common Marketing Claims Persuade Caregivers that Infant Formula and Toddler Milks Provide Unsupported Health Benefits for Young Children

Marketing claims promote benefits of providing infant formula and toddler milks that are not supported by scientific evidence, yet 60% of caregivers surveyed mistakenly believe these products provide nutrition not present in breastmilk, whole milk or other healthy foods, according to a new paper published in Maternal and Child Nutrition from researchers at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut. Relatedly, caregivers who participated in the study who believe these unsupported claims are significantly more likely to serve infant formula and toddler milk to their children, despite expert recommendations that toddler milks are not necessary for toddlers and that breastmilk is superior to infant formula for infants up to 12 months.

02/04/2020: Ad Spending on Toddler Milks Increased Four-Fold, U.S. Sales of These Products More than Doubled from 2006 to 2015

Formula companies quadrupled their advertising of toddler milk products over a ten year period, contributing to a 2.6 times increase in the amount of toddler milk sold, according to a new paper published in Public Health Nutrition from researchers at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut. This rapid increase in sales occurred despite recommendations from health and nutrition experts. Recently, an expert panel representing the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Heart Association issued guidance recommending that parents do not serve toddler milks, as young children do not need them and the added sugars in these drinks raise concerns.

01/14/2020: Healthier School Meals Are Evidence of the Success of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act

In a new analysis of studies conducted following the implementation of the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), researchers find positive effects on the dietary quality of meals served to school-aged children. 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. Producing healthier meals was also not associated with significantly increased costs. 

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.

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