May 2015





NCCOR hosts May 19 seminar to explore ‘Bridging the Food Industry-Public Health Divide’

April 13, 2015, NCCOR

Please join us on Tuesday, May 19 at 12:30 p.m., Eastern, for the seminar “Tackling the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Conundrum: New Ways to Bridge the Food Industry-Public Health Divide.”

This seminar is the second in a five-part series on “Bridging the Food Industry-Public Health Divide: A Guide to More Effective Engagement and Policies.” Hank Cardello, Senior Fellow and Director of the Obesity Solutions Initiative at the Hudson Institute will host the seminar. Cardello will be joined by leaders in the field, including:

  • Dr. William Dietz, Director, Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness, George Washington University
  • Dr. James Hill, Founding Executive Director, Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
  • Dr. Walter Willett, Fredrick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition Chair, Department of Nutrition, Harvard University
  • Maryellen Molyneaux, Managing Partner, Natural Marketing Institute

The seminar series is held in partnership with the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Hudson Institute. The purpose of the series is to more effectively understand the challenges and opportunities before the public health community and the food industry that may lead to improved public health and policy outcomes.

The second seminar is hosted at the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research on May 19, 12:30-3:30 p.m., Eastern, (lunch will be served) at the FHI 360 Building, 8th Floor, Vista Room, 1825 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC.

To register to attend online, visit To RSVP to attend in-person, please contact Mary Ellen Brown at The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation,

Also, mark your calendars for other upcoming seminars in the series on Oct. 20, “Ways for Marketers to Help Improve Health Outcomes for Children and Vulnerable Populations,” and Dec. 10, “How to Increase Consumer Demand for Healthier Products.” We encourage you to forward this invitation to colleagues, students, and others who may have an interest.

Back to Top

Publications & Tools

Watch the NCCOR Healthy Food Incentives Workshop Series

In May, July, and September 2014, the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research convened practitioners, researchers, government officials, national associations, and funders for three Healthy Food Incentives workshops. The series explored best practices from practitioners, effective behavioral economics strategies, information gaps, and opportunities to bring multiple sectors together to support program practice and research.

WATCH WORKSHOP 1: Perspectives from the Field

WATCH WORKSHOP 2: Exploring Ways to Nudge Healthy Purchases

WATCH WORKSHOP 3: Moving the Field Forward

Back to Top

Report shares strategies, insights to get locally grown foods into the community

Communities across the country are creating innovative and effective ways to build procurement of locally produced foods by schools, hospitals, food banks, and other institutions. To assist communities in enhancing the health and economic impacts of local food procurement initiatives, the Illinois Public Health Institute and Crossroads Resource Center released a new report–Exploring Economic and Health Impacts of Local Food Procurement. The report highlights practical, effective strategies for communities to add locally sourced food to their institutional food systems; recommends ways to conceptualize and measure economic and health impacts; suggests effective funding strategies; and includes Critical Analysis of Economic Impact Methodologies, which discusses the literature on the economic impact of local foods.


Back to Top

New papers focus on getting research used

The April edition of Preventing Chronic Disease includes two peer-reviewed articles exploring ways to increase the impact of nutrition and obesity research, particularly among policymakers. Both papers feature authors from the Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network Policy Impact Working Group, several of whom are also National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research members. “Getting Research to the Policy Table: A Qualitative Study With Public Health Researchers on Engaging With Policymakers” aims to increase understanding about the current state of public health nutrition and obesity researcher practices, beliefs, barriers, and facilitators to communicating and engaging with policymakers, and to identify best practices and suggest improvements. “Elevating the Impact of Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation” considers if and how nutrition and obesity policy research and evaluation findings influence policy pathways or whether these findings are used in formulating public policy.



Back to Top

Interactive map connects participants to Let’s Move! programs

Let’s Move! recently launched an interactive map to help individuals find activities in their community. Easily searchable, the map depicts thousands of school, child care, and community programs across the country. The programs in the map were launched in collaboration with federal agencies, businesses, and nonprofits to mobilize every sector to work in alignment with the overall goals of Let’s Move! and offer solutions, objectives, and technical assistance to help kids and families lead healthier lives.


Back to Top

Childhood Obesity Research & News

Study makes surprising link between TV time and childhood obesity

April 26, 2015, Los Angeles Times

By Karen Kaplan

The ill effects of being a couch potato kick in fast for kindergartners, a new study suggests.

Kindergarten children who watched television for more than one hour a day were 52 percent more likely to be overweight than their schoolmates who watched less TV, researchers said on April 26. The kids who spent at least an hour each day in front of the boob tube were also 72 percent more likely to be obese.

These figures are based on data from 12,650 children from around the country who started kindergarten in the fall of 2011 and were enrolled in a study run by the U.S. Department of Education. Researchers measured the height and weight of each young student (which were used to calculate their body mass index), and parents were asked how much TV time their kids got.

The average amount of time this nationally representative group of kindergartners spent watching TV was 3.3 hours. When the researchers did their statistical analysis to link time spent watching TV with weight, they controlled for factors that might have skewed the results, like gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

The researchers also took into account the number of hours the kids spent using computers, but it turned out that had no correlation with the children’s BMI.

One year after they entered the study, 10,853 of the children had their height and weight measured again, and their parents updated the researchers on their television-viewing habits. The results were once again striking: Compared to the kids who watched less than an hour of TV per day, those who watched an hour or more were 39 percent more likely to become overweight between kindergarten and first grade. They also were 86 percent more likely to become obese during that time.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children limit their total screen time—including time in front of the TV—to less than two hours per day. But these results suggest their advice may be overly generous.

“Given the data presented in this study, the AAP may wish to lower its recommended TV viewing allowances,” Dr. Mark DeBoer, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Virginia, said in a statement.

DeBoer will present the study results at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in San Diego.


Original source:

Back to Top

National survey: Kids’ healthy habits decline during summer

April 23, 2015, Sys-Con

Although most parents consider their children’s habits related to exercise and healthy eating to be high priorities, most may need additional information to help their kids reach these goals, according to a new national survey. This gap may help explain why kids’ activity and eating behaviors don’t meet current recommendations. Achieving a healthy lifestyle is particularly important during the summer months, when kids are vulnerable to not only forgetting what they’ve learned during the school year, but also to excessive weight gain.

More than 70 percent of parents were unaware of the recommended standards for healthy eating and physical activity for children according to the YMCA’s Family Health Snapshot survey, conducted in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight. For example, only 29 percent of parents surveyed knew that half of their child’s plate at meals should consist of fruits and vegetables as recommended by USDA’s My Plate. More than half of parents surveyed thought the correct amount was one third or less. And only about a quarter of parents knew that children should get at least 60 minutes of exercise each day.

Results of the Family Health Snapshot survey, based on responses of nearly 1,200 parents of kids ages 5 to 12, underscore the challenges parents face in ensuring that their kids maintain a healthy lifestyle, especially during the summer.

  • While most parents (65 percent) accurately believe that leisure screen time should be limited to two hours or less each day, 64 percent report that their kids spend three or more hours per day online, playing video games, or watching TV during the summer. That’s a 30 percent increase compared with results for the school year.
  • Only about half of kids get at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity during the summer.
  • While produce consumption rises during the summer months, many kids still don’t eat the recommended amount of vegetables.
  • Only 26 percent of kids spend more than an hour each day reading a book for fun during the summer.
  • About three-quarters of kids drink sugar-sweetened beverages at least weekly during the summer, and about a quarter of kids average one or more sweetened beverages daily or nearly daily.
  • Concerns about preventing learning loss and ensuring their kids eat healthy foods during summer were particularly high among African-American or Hispanic/Latino parents, relative to Caucasian parents (46 percent vs. 33 percent for learning loss, and 47 percent vs. 32 percent for healthy eating).

The survey also revealed that parents prioritize finding enriching activities and ensuring that their kids don’t lose what they’ve learned during the school year over the summer. However, they may need help following through on these intentions to help avoid the “summer slide.”

“Without access to daily lessons, enrichment, and exercise, kids are at risk of falling behind during the summer months,” said Kevin Washington, president and CEO of YMCA of the USA. “The YMCA helps parents turn their good intentions into reality with summer programs designed to strengthen their kids’ minds and bodies and keep them on track for good health and academic success year-round.”

The YMCA and the AAP’s Institute recommend families follow the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) Standards for afterschool, summer, and preschool programs, which emphasize the importance of fruits, veggies, water, and low- or non-fat beverages, as well as limiting screen time and being physically active.

“We know parents want to do everything they can to prepare their kids for the next school year,” said Sandra G. Hassink, MD, FAAP, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Our job is to help families recognize they have the power to keep their kids healthy and ready to learn by keeping them focused, encouraging them to eat healthy, exercise, and trading their tablets for books.”

Concerned about the health and achievement gaps many children face, particularly during the summer, the YMCA—a leading nonprofit in youth development—is launching a national campaign, Hop the Gap, to bring more awareness to the issue and how the YMCA can help.

To kick off the campaign, the YMCA will hosted its 21st annual Healthy Kids Day® on Saturday, April 25. Healthy Kids Day is the nation’s largest health day for kids, celebrated by more than 1,300 YMCAs across the country.


Original source:

Back to Top

American inactivity level is highest since 2007, survey finds

April 23, 2015, The Wall Street Journal

By Sara Germano

The number of Americans who were “totally sedentary” last year rose to its highest level since 2007, according to a new survey.

Roughly 83 million Americans age 6 and over, or about 28 percent of the population, reported that they did not once participate in any of 104 specific physical activities in the last calendar year, according to annual survey results by the Physical Activity Council (PAC) released on April 22.

The result is the highest level of inactivity documented by the survey since 2007, when the council rejiggered its parameters for physical activity to exclude things like darts and billiards.

“We feel confident, in a sad way, that this is the largest number we’ve ever seen,” said Tom Cove, chief executive of the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), which is one of the members of the council. Mr. Cove said the number of inactive Americans is the highest he has seen in his more than 24 years involved with the survey.

The number of totally sedentary Americans has risen 18 percent since 2007, while the percentage of the total inactive population age 6 and over has grown by three percentage points over the same period.

The survey was based on more than 10,700 individual and household interviews during the first two months of 2015, concerning their physical activity for the prior year. The survey tracks participation across a range of sports and fitness endeavors, from running, basketball, and soccer to other activities like bowling, yoga, and paintball. The data also includes responses across the age spectrum from children over six to adults age 65 and over.

The council is a consortium of six sports and fitness trade associations, including the SFIA, the National Golf Foundation, the Outdoor Industry Association and others.

Rising inactivity runs counter to increasing demand for athletic apparel and footwear, the so-called “athleisure” trend which has taken off among retailers. But even in retail there are signs that the fashion of fitness may be driving sales more than actual fitness. Sales of performance focused running shoes fell 18 percent for the year ended April 11, while sales of more fashion-focused pairs rose 8 percent over the same period, according to industry tracker SportsOneSource.

The PAC has found that physical education at schools has a direct correlation to fitness levels through a person’s life and the groups that make up the council are concerned that decreasing minutes for gym in schools is a chief contributor to rising levels of inactivity among adults.

At the same time, however, the demanding nature of team sports, even among young children where competitiveness has been increasing and specialization is being emphasized more, is turning off some children, Mr. Cove said.

“There are way too many kids who leave sports at age 9, 10, 11, because they simply have to make a decision: am I going to be a travel soccer kid and devote my life to this, or are there other things that I want to do?” he said. Other factors contributing to the rise in inactivity include a decrease in minutes available for physical education in some schools, he said, as well as financial concerns.

The PAC study results align with other research on physical activity. According to the most recent National Youth Risk Behavior Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 27 percent of students in grades 9-12 in 2013 met activity guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Health, roughly even with 2011 results. Further, 15 percent of respondents said they did not participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity at least one day a week.

In 2008, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released physical activity guidelines for Americans, suggesting that children and adolescents receive 60 minutes or more of physical activity daily, while adults should aim for 150 minutes a week.

“It’s safe to say, unfortunately, a great majority of schools across the country are not meeting those recommendations,” said Paula Kun, senior director of marketing and communications for SHAPE America, a nonprofit which tracks physical education guidelines in public schools nationwide. In some cases, she said, schools have decreased the amount of time students spend in physical education classes.


Original source:

Back to Top

Family stress linked to teen obesity in study

April 8, 2015, HealthDay

Robery Preidt

Family stress may put teens at increased risk for being overweight or obese, a new study finds.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 4,700 American teens born between 1975 and 1990 to assess the effects of three specific sources of family stress: financial problems, a mother’s poor health, and family disruption.

“Experiencing family stress—specifically family disruption and financial stress—repeatedly throughout childhood was associated with overweight or obesity by the time adolescent girls turned 18,” said study author Daphne Hernandez, an assistant professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance at the University of Houston.

Only one family stress point—a mother’s poor health—was associated with overweight or obesity in boys by the time they turned 18, according to the study published in the April issue of the journal Preventive Medicine.

Overall, the findings suggest that female and male adolescents respond differently to stress. This study extends our knowledge of stress and obesity by focusing on the family environment over time.

By knowing the types of stressors that influence female and male adolescent weight gain, we can tailor specific social services to be included in obesity prevention programs,” Hernandez said.

Currently, school-based obesity prevention programs focus on healthy eating and exercise, which yield only short-term benefits, according to Hernandez.

“These programs need to take a broader approach to combating obesity by helping families experiencing these kinds of stressors find access to mental health programs, financial assistance, or family counseling,” she said.

“Developing strategies to help with family stressors during childhood may help children maintain healthy weight into adulthood,” Hernandez concluded.

Although the study found an association between family stressors and weight in childhood, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.


Original source:

Back to Top

How do race and ethnicity influence childhood obesity?

April 23, 2015, Medical News Today

By James McIntosh

Obesity is a serious public health problem in the United States and can affect anyone regardless of age. In particular, childhood obesity prevalence remains high. As well as compromising a child’s immediate health, obesity can also negatively influence long-term health dramatically. Unfortunately, some racial and ethnic groups are affected by obesity much more than others.

For example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH) report that African-American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese, compared with other racial or ethnic groups in the United States.

Approximately 4 out of 5 African-African women were found to be overweight or obese and, in 2011, African-American women were 80 percent more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white women.

Researchers have identified that disparities in obesity prevalence can be found just as readily among children as among adults. It is alarming that these disparities exist to begin with, but more so that they exist so early in life for so many.

This article takes a look at the prevalence of childhood obesity in the United States and the disparities in childhood obesity prevalence that exist among different racial and ethnic groups. It examines what factors may contribute to this disparity and what action can be taken to remedy the situation.

“Obesity is the terror within,” states Dr. Richard Carmona, the former Surgeon General. “Unless we do something about it, the magnitude of the dilemma will dwarf September 11th or any other terrorist attempt.”

These are strong words, but they illustrate the scope of the obesity problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2009-2010, over a third (35.7 percent) of adults in the United States were obese.

On average, childhood obesity in the United States has not changed significantly since 2003-2004, and overall, approximately 17 percent of all children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese—a total of 12.7 million.

There are a number of immediate health problems that childhood obesity can lead to, including:

  • Respiratory problems, such as asthma and sleep apnea
  • High blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Increased risk of psychological and social problems, such as discrimination and low self-esteem
  • Joint problems
  • Type 2 diabetes

In the long term, obese children are much more likely to grow up to be obese as adults than children with healthy weights. Not only that, but the obesity experienced by these children is likely to be more severe, leading to further and more extreme health problems.

  • Hispanic youth: 22.4 percent
  • Non-Hispanic black youth: 20.2 percent
  • Non-Hispanic white youth: 14.1 percent
  • Non-Hispanic Asian youth: 8.6 percent

From these figures taken from 2011-2012, we can see that levels of obesity among Hispanic and non-Hispanic black children and adolescents are significantly above average.

When the parameters are extended to include overweight children as well, the disparity persists. Around 38.9 percent of Hispanic youth and 32.5 percent of non-Hispanic black youth are either overweight or obese, compared with 28.5 percent of non-Hispanic white youth.

In 2008, Dr. Sonia Caprio, from the Yale University School of Medicine and colleagues wrote an article published in Diabetes Care in which they examined the influence of race, ethnicity, and culture on childhood obesity, and what their implications were for prevention and treatment.

“Obesity in children is associated with severe impairments in quality of life,” state the authors. “Although differences by race may exist in some domains, the strong negative effect is seen across all racial/ethnic groups and dwarfs any potential racial/ethnic differences.”

However, if there are specific factors contributing to these disparities that can be addressed, the numbers involved suggest that attention should be paid to them. The long-term health of thousands of children in the United States is at stake.

“Rarely is obesity in children caused by a medical condition,” write the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in their childhood obesity advocacy manual. “It occurs when more calories are eaten than calories burned.”

The NAACP outline a number of factors that contribute to increases in childhood obesity, including:

  • The development of neighborhoods that hinder or prevent outdoor physical activity
  • Failure to adequately educate and influence families about good nutrition
  • Ignored need for access to healthy foods within communities
  • Limited physical activity in schools
  • Promotion of a processed food culture

The CDC report that childhood obesity among preschoolers is more prevalent in those who come from lower-income families. It is likely that this ties in with the disparity in obesity prevalence among different racial and ethnic groups.

“There are major racial differences in wealth at a given level of income,” write Caprio, et al. “Whereas whites in the bottom quintile of income had some accumulated resources, African-Americans in the same income quintile had 400 times less or essentially none.”

Fast food and processed food is widely available, low cost, and nutritionally poor. For these reasons, they are often associated with rising obesity prevalence among children. According to Caprio, et al., lower-cost foods comprise a greater proportion of the diet of lower-income individuals.

If adults need to work long hours in order to make enough money to support their families, they may have a limited amount of time in which to prepare meals, leading them to choose fast food and convenient processed food over more healthy home-cooked meals.

Living in high-poverty areas can also mean that children have limited access to suitable outdoor spaces for exercise. If the street is the only option available to children in which to play, they or their parents may prefer them to stay inside in a safer environment.

Hispanic youth and non-Hispanic black youth are more likely to come from lower-income families than non-Hispanic white youth. According to “The State of Obesity,” white families earn $2 for every $1 earned by Hispanic or non-Hispanic black families.

Over 38 percent of African-American children aged below 18 and 23 percent of Hispanic families live below the poverty line. This statistic suggests that the effects of living with a low income that increase the risk of obesity may be felt much more by African-American and Hispanic families and their children.

Not only do these socioeconomic factors increase the risk of obesity among these demographic groups, but equally obesity can compromise a family’s economic standing.

The NAACP points out that families with obese children spend more money on clothing and medical care. Additionally, as obese and overweight girls frequently start puberty at a younger-than-average age, there is a possibility that their risk of adolescent pregnancy is also higher.

Alongside these socioeconomic factors, a number of additional factors exist that may be linked to an increased prevalence of childhood obesity among Hispanic and non-Hispanic black youth.

The NAACP give one such example, stating that one component of body image is how a person believes others view them or accept their weight:

“This also poses unique challenges in African-American communities because of cultural norms that accept, uplift, and at times reward individuals who are considered ‘big-boned,’ ‘P-H-A-T,’ ‘fat,’ or ‘thick.’”

Cultural norms such as these may lead to parents remaining satisfied with the weight of their children or even wanting them to be heavier, even if they are at an unhealthy weight. Other sociological studies have also suggested that among Hispanic families, women may prefer a thin figure for themselves, but a larger one for their children, according to Caprio, et al.

As well as being influenced by socioeconomic status, the type of foods eaten by children can be influenced by the cultural traditions of their families.

“Food is both an expression of cultural identity and a means of preserving family and community unity,” write Caprio, et al. “While consumption of traditional food with family may lower the risk of obesity in some children (e.g., Asians), it may increase the risk of obesity in other children (e.g., African-Americans).”

As mentioned earlier, the promotion of a processed food culture may be a contributing factor to childhood obesity. As fast food companies target specific audiences, favoring cultural forms associated with a particular race or ethnicity could increase children’s risk of being exposed to aggressive marketing.

Caprio, et al., report that exposure to food-related television advertising—most frequently fast food advertising—was found to be 60 percent among African-American children.

The amount of television that is watched may contribute as well; one study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation observed that African-American children watched television for longer periods than non-Hispanic white children.

A number of these cultural factors are associated with socioeconomic factors. African-American children may be more likely to watch television for longer, for example, if they live in areas where opportunities for playing safely outside are limited.

This subject area is far too detailed to do justice to in an article of this size, but these brief observations suggest that there should be ways in which the disparity in childhood obesity between racial and ethnic groups can be addressed.

Having more safe spaces to walk, exercise, and play in low-income areas would give children a better opportunity to get the exercise needed to burn the required number of calories each day. Improving the availability of and access to healthy food would give families more options when it came to maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.

The NAACP state that low-income neighborhoods have half as many supermarkets as the wealthiest neighborhoods, suggesting that for many low-income families, accessing healthy food can be a challenge.

Caprio, et al. propose that a “socioecological” framework should be adopted to guide the prevention of childhood obesity. Such a framework would involve viewing children “in the context of their families, communities, and cultures, emphasizing the relationships among environmental, biological, and behavioral determinants of health.”

This approach would require large-scale collaboration, involving peer support, the establishment of supportive social norms and both the private and public sector working together.

“For health care providers to have a meaningful interaction about energy intake and energy expenditure with children/families, providers should have training in cultural competency in order to understand the specific barriers patients face and the influence of culture and society on health behaviors,” the authors suggest.

In order for this disparity to be adequately addressed, a lot of work will need to be done. Not only might certain cultural norms need to be altered, but most importantly, environments will need to be provided in which children will have the opportunity to live as healthy lives as possible.


Original source:

Back to Top