April 2013

SPOTLIGHT

PUBLICATIONS & TOOLS

CHILDHOOD OBESITY RESEARCH & NEWS

Spotlight

School design guidelines help promote healthy eating behaviors in kids

March 13, 2013, NCCOR

A newly available pilot tool, the Healthy Eating Design Guidelines for School Architecture, represents an innovative approach to obesity prevention that compasses architecture, schools, and science.

Creating school food environments that support healthy eating among children is a recommended national strategy to prevent childhood obesity, and is shown to have positive effects on student behavior, development, and academic performance.

To help children learn life-long healthy eating habits, researchers developed the Healthy Eating Design Guidelines for School Architecture which provides practitioners in architecture and public health as well as school system administrators with a practical set of spatially organized and theory-based strategies for making school environments more conducive to learning about and practicing healthy eating behaviors.

These guidelines were implemented in a pilot project at Buckingham Elementary School in Dillwyn, Va. The project focused on using the design of the school building itself to promote healthy behaviors and long-term attitudes of healthy eating and physical activity.

“The entire building is a classroom,” said the project’s Dr. Matthew J. Trowbridge, of the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Every aspect of the school architecture — the furniture, color pallet, and materials — was designed to promote healthy behaviors. This project is the first of its kind and represents a brand new way of thinking about childhood obesity prevention.

“A kid is a kinetic, excited entity, and many of the design decisions that have been implemented here, including all the way down to the furniture choices are meant to let the child move,” said Trowbridge, also a major contributor to NCCOR’s green health activities.

The pilot tool is expected to evolve and be refined as its components are tested and evaluated through public health and design research. The Healthy Eating Design Guidelines were published online Feb. 28 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

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Publications & Tools

HHS releases follow-up report on increasing physical activity among youth in the United States

On March 8, 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a five-year follow-up report to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Midcourse Report: Strategies to Increase Physical Activity Among Youth provides recommendations for increasing physical activity levels of American youth across five key settings: Schools, Preschool and Childcare, Community, Home, and Healthcare. Key findings from the report include:

  1. Increase opportunities for physical activity in schools. Offer students “enhanced physical education” opportunities with lesson time from well-trained specialists and instructional practices that provide more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Provide classroom activity breaks, activity sessions before or after school, and opportunities to walk and bike to school.
  2. Offer more opportunities for preschoolers and children in childcare centers to be active. Increase the time they spend outside, give them play equipment such as balls and tricycles, provide trained staff to lead physical activities, and increase the time kids get to do these kinds of things.
  3. Change the built environment. Improve walking and biking infrastructure, such as sidewalks, multi-use trails, and bike lanes. Increase access and proximity to parks.
  4. Continue to advance research of youth physical activity interventions. More research needs to be done to study the long-term effects of physical activity interventions, determine specific intervention strategies to increase youth activity, and assess the impact of policy and programs on physical activity in children.

READ THE REPORT

VIEW RELATED INFOGRAPHIC

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New report rates food and beverage companies on their nutrition-related policies and practices

E-NEWSLETTER
APRIL 2013


SPOTLIGHT

PUBLICATIONS

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS

CHILDHOOD OBESITY NEWS


SPOTLIGHT

School design guidelines help promote healthy eating behaviors in kids

March 13, 2013, NCCOR

A newly available pilot tool, the Healthy Eating Design Guidelines for School Architecture, represents an innovative approach to obesity prevention that compasses architecture, schools, and science.

Creating school food environments that support healthy eating among children is a recommended national strategy to prevent childhood obesity, and is shown to have positive effects on student behavior, development, and academic performance.

To help children learn life-long healthy eating habits, researchers developed the Healthy Eating Design Guidelines for School Architecture which provides practitioners in architecture and public health as well as school system administrators with a practical set of spatially organized and theory-based strategies for making school environments more conducive to learning about and practicing healthy eating behaviors.

These guidelines were implemented in a pilot project at Buckingham Elementary School in Dillwyn, Va. The project focused on using the design of the school building itself to promote healthy behaviors and long-term attitudes of healthy eating and physical activity.

“The entire building is a classroom,” said the project’s Dr. Matthew J. Trowbridge, of the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Every aspect of the school architecture — the furniture, color pallet, and materials — was designed to promote healthy behaviors. This project is the first of its kind and represents a brand new way of thinking about childhood obesity prevention.

“A kid is a kinetic, excited entity, and many of the design decisions that have been implemented here, including all the way down to the furniture choices are meant to let the child move,” said Trowbridge, also a major contributor to NCCOR’s green health activities.

The pilot tool is expected to evolve and be refined as its components are tested and evaluated through public health and design research. The Healthy Eating Design Guidelines were published online Feb. 28 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

READ THE ARTICLE

WATCH THE RELATED VIDEO

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PUBLICATIONS

HHS releases follow-up report on increasing physical activity among youth in the United States

On March 8, 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a five-year follow-up report to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Midcourse Report: Strategies to Increase Physical Activity Among Youth provides recommendations for increasing physical activity levels of American youth across five key settings: Schools, Preschool and Childcare, Community, Home, and Healthcare. Key findings from the report include:

  1. Increase opportunities for physical activity in schools. Offer students “enhanced physical education” opportunities with lesson time from well-trained specialists and instructional practices that provide more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Provide classroom activity breaks, activity sessions before or after school, and opportunities to walk and bike to school.
  2. Offer more opportunities for preschoolers and children in childcare centers to be active. Increase the time they spend outside, give them play equipment such as balls and tricycles, provide trained staff to lead physical activities, and increase the time kids get to do these kinds of things.
  3. Change the built environment. Improve walking and biking infrastructure, such as sidewalks, multi-use trails, and bike lanes. Increase access and proximity to parks.
  4. Continue to advance research of youth physical activity interventions. More research needs to be done to study the long-term effects of physical activity interventions, determine specific intervention strategies to increase youth activity, and assess the impact of policy and programs on physical activity in children.

READ THE REPORT

VIEW RELATED INFOGRAPHIC

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New report rates food and beverage companies on their nutrition-related policies and practices

A new report released March 13 from Access to Nutrition Index calls for food and beverage manufacturers to increase access to nutritious products and positively exercise their influence on consumer choice and behavior. The report, Access to Nutrition Index Global Index 2013, assesses the nutrition-related commitments, performance, and disclosure practices of 25 of the world’s largest food and beverage manufacturers as measured against international guidelines, norms, and accepted best practices. Key findings include:

  • The highest scoring companies have clear commitments, detailed policies, and measurable targets related to nutrition. They have also charged senior executives with achieving these targets and provided incentives for them to do so.
  • Companies’ practices often do not measure up to their commitments. Companies are missing key opportunities to implement their commitments in core business areas such as product formulation, marketing, and distribution.
  • Companies are not meaningfully engaged in addressing undernutrition and could better leverage their expertise, skills, and scale to help combat this global health challenge.

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School district wellness policies: Evaluating progress and potential for improving children's health five years after the federal mandate

This new report from Bridging the Gap examines the latest data on wellness policies from nationally representative samples of school districts for each year, 2006-2007 through 2010-2011. The report shows trends and comparisons in policy provisions, e.g., school meal guidelines, competitive food and beverage guidelines, physical activity goals, and other federally required provisions, that were in effect during the 2006-2007 and the 2010-2011 school years. It also includes new data on wellness policy reporting requirements and a comparison of districts’ competitive food and beverage guidelines with the 2007 Institute of Medicine (IOM) nutritional standards for foods in schools.

READ THE REPORT

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Office of Disease Prevention seeking public comment on its strategic plan

The Office of Disease Prevention (ODP), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is currently seeking public comment on the development of its strategic plan for the next five years.

The mission of the ODP is to improve public health by increasing the scope, quality, dissemination, and impact of prevention research supported by NIH. The goals and objectives presented in the final strategic plan will outline the priorities for ODP and highlight the role of the Office in advancing prevention research at NIH.

Respondents are encouraged to review and provide comments on a set of draft strategic priorities. Specifically, ODP would like input on measurable objectives for each priority and benchmarks for gauging progress. Respondents can also provide recommendations on steps ODP could take to improve processes NIH uses to solicit, review, and administer prevention research grants and cooperative agreements.

Respondents may include, but are not limited to, prevention researchers in academia and industry, health care professionals, patient advocates and advocacy organizations, scientific or professional organizations, federal agencies, and other interested members of the public.

Organizations are strongly encouraged to submit a single response that reflects the views of their organization and membership as a whole.

Though the initial date for closing comments was April 14, 2013, it has been extended until April 30, 2013.

PROVIDE COMMENTS

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Childhood Obesity Research & News

U.S. childhood obesity fight sees some success

March 7, 2013, Reuters

By Susan Heavey

U.S. companies and other groups that have made attempts to reverse the nation’s rising childhood obesity rate are starting to see results as more American kids exercise and have better access to healthy foods, they said on March 7.

More than 1,700 U.S. cities have promoted exercise to get nearly 3 million more kids moving in the last year, according to a report by the Partnership for a Healthier America, a nonprofit that works to get private companies and organizations to pledge specific action to fight the weight epidemic.

Still, if left unchecked, about half of all Americans will be obese by 2030, according to the group, whose partners range from Darden Restaurants Inc. and Walmart Stores Inc. to the YMCA and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Some health advocates welcomed the findings but said more effort was still needed, including government action.

Already, one in three U.S. youth are obese and another third are overweight. Experts are worried because heavier children are more likely to remain overweight as adults, and suffer a higher incidence of diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions.

“We’re seeing pockets of progress toward reversing the childhood obesity epidemic,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “For progress to reach every corner of our country, we must redouble our efforts: Parents, schools, nonprofit organizations, government at all levels, and the private sector.” Childhood obesity carries significant healthcare related costs and even poses national security risks, experts say, by reducing the pool of those fit for military service.

Some of the partner companies have pledged to change food offerings on restaurant menus or work to get more children into activities like soccer or tennis, according to the group, which released the report as part of its annual conference in Washington that also headlined first lady Michelle Obama.

The group has said it wants to help 10 million Americans gain access to healthier foods, saying 23.5 million people in the United States — including 6.5 million children — have no nearby access to options like fresh produce or cannot afford to buy it.

Already, 141 grocery stores have been built or renovated in so-called “food deserts,” often low-income urban neighborhoods without nearby grocery stores, helping more than a half-million people, it said.

“In places like Philadelphia, New York City, and Mississippi — places where folks from every sector are working together — we’ve seen childhood obesity rates begin to come down,” said Obama, who has made tackling obesity her signature issue while in the White House. Fruits and vegetables, meat, and other whole foods can often be more expensive than processed ones that contain subsidized ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup.

Some health experts have been critical of the food industry for offering unhealthy products. Manufacturers have long pointed to consumer choice, but many have begun to change their offerings in recent years as more U.S. consumers become health conscious.

Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker, another honorary vice chairman and a Democrat, told MSNBC the annual progress report is important for holding companies accountable to their commitments to change.

On March 7, several more companies joined the partnership, including GE Healthcare, part of General Electric Co., and Cerner Corp., among others.

***

Original source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/07/us-usa-obesity-idUSBRE9261FH20130307

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After years of recess erosion, schools try to get kids moving again

March 22, 2013, Yahoo! News

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Candymaker pledges to fight obesity

March 5, 2013, ABC News

By Liz Neporent

With soda taxes and proposals to limit super-size sweetened drinks already sweeping the nation, candy could be the next target in the war against obesity. There’s an inkling that candy manufacturers suspect this and are taking steps to head off future regulation.

Speaking at last week’s National Confectioners Association meeting in Miami, Debra Sandler, the president of Mars Chocolate in North America, tried to rally major candymakers to come up with ways to help solve the obesity crisis before government forces step in and force them to.

As first reported by the candy trade publication Confectionery News, Sandler said in her speech, “If we don’t [act], I worry that someone else will do it for us. … We need the whole industry to step up. … We are not judged by the leaders of the category but by those who do not take responsibility for change.”

Calls and emails to Mars Inc. and the National Confectioners Association by ABC News seeking comment were not immediately returned. Americans do seem to have an insatiable appetite for sweet treats. We consume more than 7.7 billion pounds of candy each year — about 25 pounds per person — according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Approximately 60 percent of that total is from chocolate, with gummy bears, chewing gum, and a wide variety of other non-chocolate confections making up the remainder.

As Sandler noted in her speech, candy only accounts for 2 percent of calories in the average American diet. But she warned against using this low percentage as an excuse to skirt the issues, urging manufacturers to fight excess calorie consumption by displaying calorie content more prominently on the front of the packaging and reformulating recipes for lower-calorie counts and better nutrition.

Sandler’s remarks have received praise from some surprising places. “Mars has been making an effort to be more responsible in how they market candy. It’s good to see them calling on their colleagues to do the same.” said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Wootan said that Mars was instrumental in getting Congress to pass the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010, which included a provision that required foods served in schools to meet specific U.S. Department of Agriculture standards — meaning candy had to be removed from campuses.

Mars has also had one of the strongest policies against marketing its products to children, agreeing not to advertise directly to children in most media, Wootan said. Other large candymakers, such as Nestle and Hershey, have adopted similar policies.

Brian Wansink, a professor of consumer behavior at Cornell University’s Dyson School and author of the book “Mindless Eating” agreed with Wootan. He said it’s tempting to be cynical of a “Big Candy” campaign to fight obesity, but anything companies do to help consumers eat less is a step in the right direction.

“If they do some smart things that make it easier for consumers to eat healthier, they may also expand their markets and increase profits. Regardless of their intensions, that’s a win-win for everybody,” he said.

Wansink said he thought changes to packaging would be effective because many consumers tend to take a categorical approach to their diets. “My studies show people often come up with one or two hard-and-fast rules in their diet, such as vowing not to eat candy under any circumstances,” he explained. “This often backfires, because they skip the candy in favor of a bagel that has even more calories than a candy bar, or they make up for it later by eating a piece of cake or a really large dinner.”

By offering smaller portions, lighter calorie alternatives and resealable bags, candymakers would allow people to indulge their sweet tooth without forcing them to commit to 300 calories or more in one sitting, Wansink said.

While Wootan applauded these kinds of suggestions, she said she wished candymakers would go further.

“I’d like to see them remove candy from the checkout aisle, which is really just a way to manipulate people to buy candy they don’t want and regret eating afterward,” she said.

She said she also suspected shrinking candy bar sizes would do little good if they still come in giant bags, especially if the bags are decorated with cartoon characters that beckon to children.

In her speech, Sandler expressed worry over the fact that dozens of states have considered imposing sweeping “fat” taxes to curtail consumption of the sweet stuff. There is increasing evidence they could be effective: A survey of nearly 30 international studies published in theBritish Medical Journal found that a 20 percent tax on sugary beverages would reduce obesity levels by 3.5 percent. And findings published in the Archives of Internal Medicineestimated that an 18 percent tax on pizza and soda would lead to a 5 pound weight loss per year for the average American.

***

Original source: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/candymaker-pledges-fight-obesity/story?id=18651140

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