PUBLICATIONS & TOOLS
- NCCOR Toolbox: NCCOR Tools Help Provide Research Capacity for the White House Conference Pillars
- New Publication from USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Responds to Goals from the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health
- Special Supplement and Social Media Toolkit to Promote Early Childhood Nutrition
- Active Living Conference Still Accepting Presentation Proposals
- Study Shows Community Support for Activity-Friendly Environments
CHILDHOOD OBESITY RESEARCH & NEWS
- FDA Proposes Updated Definition of ‘Healthy’ Claim on Food Packages to Help Improve Diet, Reduce Chronic Disease
- Key Takeaways from Biden's Conference on Hunger and Nutrition in America
- USDA Invests Nearly $2 Billion, Leverages American Agriculture to Feed Kids & Families
NCCOR Supports Active, Healthy Communities with New Resource and Webinar
NCCOR has added a new planning tool and an upcoming training webinar to its growing list of resources supporting active communities. Launched in May 2022, Create Thriving, Activity-Friendly Communities demonstrates how to make the business case for investing in equitable, environmental improvements to promote physical activity.
Now, NCCOR has expanded this resource with the launch of its highly anticipated Economic Indicators Library. The library contains 10 data indicators affecting local quality of life, such as air quality, housing affordability, green space, and life expectancy. Users will find helpful helpful resources to measure the economic benefits of activity-friendly communities. The library complements the tool’s other resources, including a customizable presentation, talking points, and a factsheet.
Those interested in a more detailed look can hear directly from the tool’s creators during a free Connect & Explore webinar on Thursday, November 17, 2022, at 2:00 p.m. ET titled Create Activity-Friendly Communities with NCCOR. An expert panel will demonstrate how to the use the Economic Indicators Library, highlight the tool’s resources, and provide guidance on how to plan effective local initiatives. Speakers include:
- Hatidza Zaganjor, MPH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Cole Youngner, MPH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Mark Fenton, MS, adjunct associate professor at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and public health, planning, and active transportation consultant.
These new resources can help communities meet the demand for inclusive spaces that promote physical activity. New research published in Preventing Chronic Disease reports that over half survey respondents supported activity-friendly community design changes even if they did increase the cost of living. This support did not differ by race nor ethnicity. Create Thriving, Activity-Friendly Communities can help local planners and advocates harness this enthusiasm to develop equitable initiatives where all residents can thrive.
Publications & Tools
NCCOR Toolbox: NCCOR Tools Help Provide Research Capacity for the White House Conference Pillars
The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health proposed five pillars for ending hunger and reducing diet-related diseases by 2030. Pillars one, two, three, and five focus on issues related to nutrition and food assess, and the fourth pillar supports “physical activity for all.” NCCOR offers tools to assist organizations working with most of these pillars. Users can search the Measures Registry and Catalogue of Surveillance Systems for data related to the usage of food assistance programs. The Youth Compendium of Physical Activity and accompanying fact sheets provide research measures and practical strategies for planning initiatives to promote youth fitness, while Create Thriving, Activity-Friendly Communities helps public health practitioners, decision-makers, and community members make the business case for investing in activity-friendly environments. Finally, the Toolkit for Evaluating Healthy Weight Programs guides users through an assessable approach to program evaluation that can help researchers determine their progress towards goals they may have benchmarked against the White House conference pillars. Visit the NCCOR website for a complete list of research tools.
New Publication from USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Responds to Goals from the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health
The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) released a new publication highlighting their commitments to end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases by 2030 following the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. The report, “Leveraging the White House Conference to Promote and Elevate Nutrition Security: The Role of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service” outlines FNS’s historic work with hunger and nutrition and defines new opportunities for government action. The report outlines each of the conference pillars and demonstrates how programs such as SNAP, WIC, and the National School Lunch Program align closely with the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.
Special Supplement and Social Media Toolkit to Promote Early Childhood Nutrition
In advance of the White House Conference on Hunger Nutrition and Health, the American Journal of Public Health pre-released three papers from a special series about nutrition from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday, a concept known as the “1,000-day window.” The full series will be available on October 26, 2022. Learn more about the series and the 1,000 Days initiative, a project of FHI Solutions. The program also offers free turnkey tools such as social media graphics and template materials to promote the initiative.
Active Living Conference Still Accepting Presentation Proposals
Co-hosted by the National Cancer Institute, the 2023 Active Living Conference is currently accepting abstract submissions through October 21, 2022, for its March 13–16, 2023 event to be held in Bethesda, MD. The theme, Expanding Active Living Applications beyond Chronic Diseases to Synergistic Epidemics, explores the role of active living in addressing multiple intersecting crises, such as coronavirus disease (COVID-19), mental health, climate change, and structural racism. Focus will also include integrations with community-led built and natural environments and related programming, such as parks, recreation, libraries, and other quality of life public assets management. Proposals can be submitted under the following three categories: 1) Practice/Policy; 2) Research; or 3) Workshop.
Study Shows Community Support for Activity-Friendly Environments
New research published in Preventing Chronic Disease adds to our understanding of how community members perceive potential tradeoffs regarding built environment improvements. The paper, “Exploring Residents’ Perceptions of Neighborhood Development and Revitalization for Active Living Opportunities,” analyzed a nationwide representative sample of 3,782 respondents. While some respondents (19.1%) agreed that development could lead to higher costs of living, half of the survey respondents (50.7%) expressed support for activity-friendly design changes even if they did increase the cost of living. This support did not differ by race nor ethnicity. The authors note their report highlights the importance of engaging community members when planning new built environment projects.
Childhood Obesity Research & News
FDA Proposes Updated Definition of ‘Healthy’ Claim on Food Packages to Help Improve Diet, Reduce Chronic Disease
September 28, 2022, Food and Drug Administration
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed updated criteria for when foods can be labeled with the nutrient content claim “healthy” on their packaging. This proposed rule would align the definition of the “healthy” claim with current nutrition science, the updated Nutrition Facts label and the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
More than 80% of people in the U.S. aren’t eating enough vegetables, fruit and dairy. And most people consume too much added sugars, saturated fat and sodium. The proposed rule is part of the agency’s ongoing commitment to helping consumers improve nutrition and dietary patterns to help reduce the burden of chronic disease and advance health equity.
The proposed rule comes on the heels of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, as well as the release of the related national strategy, which aims to end hunger, improve nutrition and physical activity, reduce diet-related diseases and close disparity gaps by 2030.
“Nutrition is key to improving our nation’s health,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Healthy food can lower our risk for chronic disease. But too many people may not know what constitutes healthy food. FDA’s move will help educate more Americans to improve health outcomes, tackle health disparities and save lives.”
The proposed rule would update the “healthy” claim definition to better account for how all the nutrients in various food groups contribute and may work synergistically to create healthy dietary patterns and improve health. Under the proposed definition for the updated “healthy” claim, which is based on current nutrition science, more foods that are part of a healthy dietary pattern and recommended by the Dietary Guidelines would be eligible to use the claim on their labeling, including nuts and seeds, higher fat fish (such as salmon), certain oils and water.
“Diet-related chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, are the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. and disproportionately impact racial and ethnic minority groups,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. “Today’s action is an important step toward accomplishing a number of nutrition-related priorities, which include empowering consumers with information to choose healthier diets and establishing healthy eating habits early. It can also result in a healthier food supply.”
Under the proposed definition, in order to be labeled with the “healthy” claim on food packaging, the products would need to:
- Contain a certain meaningful amount of food from at least one of the food groups or subgroups (e.g., fruit, vegetable, dairy, etc.) recommended by the Dietary Guidelines.
- Adhere to specific limits for certain nutrients, such as saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. The threshold for the limits is based on a percent of the Daily Value (DV) for the nutrient and varies depending on the food and food group. The limit for sodium is 10% of the DV per serving (230 milligrams per serving).
For example, a cereal would need to contain ¾ ounces of whole grains and contain no more than 1 gram of saturated fat, 230 milligrams of sodium and 2.5 grams of added sugars.
“Healthy eating patterns are associated with improved health, yet most people’s eating patterns do not align with current dietary recommendations,” said Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “In addition to today’s action, we continue to advance a number of FDA initiatives and explore new ways to coordinate, leverage and amplify important work going on across the nutrition ecosystem to help improve people’s diets and make a profound impact on the health of current and future generations.”
Along with empowering consumers, adopting the updated definition may help foster a healthier food supply if some manufacturers reformulate (e.g., add more vegetables or whole grains to meet criteria) or develop products that meet the updated definition.
Because consumers have long been interested in finding ways to more easily identify healthy foods, the agency is also in the process of studying and exploring the development of a symbol that manufacturers could use to show that their product meets the “healthy” claim criteria. The agency realizes that consumers are busy and, while shopping, may be seeking a quick way to identify and select healthy products. The updated “healthy” claim, and potential symbol, together would act as quick signals to help consumers identify healthier food choices more easily.
The FDA is participating in today’s White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health and will continue to take steps in support of the national strategy to improve nutrition and health and empower all consumers to make and have access to healthy choices. Specifically, the agency remains committed to continuing to create a healthier food supply through its recently released guidance to reduce sodium in processed, packaged and prepared foods; to providing consumers with accessible nutrition information about the foods they eat; and to providing industry with recommendations on how to use dietary guidance statements on food labeling. Future planned actions include:
- Developing a front-of-package (FOP) labeling system to quickly and more easily communicate nutrition information to empower consumers to make healthy decisions.
- Facilitating making nutrition information easily available when grocery shopping online.
- Facilitating lowering the sodium content of food in the food supply, including by issuing revised, lower voluntary sodium reduction targets for industry.
- Holding a public meeting regarding future steps the federal government could take to facilitate lowering added sugar consumption.
- Releasing additional education and outreach efforts to ensure that parents and caregivers are aware of the latest recommendations for healthy eating in young children and for taking steps to reduce exposure to toxic elements in food.
Key Takeaways from Biden's Conference on Hunger and Nutrition in America
September 28, 2022, NPR
President Biden pushed for Congress to permanently extend the child tax credit, raise the minimum wage and expand nutrition assistance programs to help reduce hunger rates as he opened the second-ever conference on food insecurity and diet-related diseases. But the administration faces a sharp uphill battle.
The conference came amid rising food inflation, the end of pandemic benefits that staved off hunger rates and storms on both coasts threatening the food security of millions. The event ties into one of Biden’s goals: end hunger in America by 2030 through proposed legislation, regulatory changes and public-private partnerships.
The strategy put forward by the administration includes expanding nutrition assistance programs and launching more healthcare programs to cover medically tailored meals.
“If you look at your child and you can’t feed your child, what the hell else matters?” Biden said.
“In America, no child should go to bed hungry. No parent should die of disease that can be prevented,” he said.
His remarks focused on the pandemic, which brought food security and diet-related diseases to the forefront as families waited in long lines at foodbanks. And those with obesity, diabetes and hypertension and other forms of diet-related diseases have had an increased risk of hospitalization with COVID.
“So many of you were there to help your fellow Americans who lost their jobs, closed their businesses, faced eviction, homelessness, hunger, loss, control, maybe worst of all, lost hope and dignity,” Biden said.
During the pandemic, major government assistance like stimulus checks and the child tax credit helped the country avert significant increases in food insecurity.
However, almost all pandemic benefits are coming to an end and advocates fear that food insecurity rates will increase this year.
The Partisan Split Threatens the Success
The White House’s plan in part relies on Congress to pass new laws and it’s unclear how quickly most of the ideas could become reality, since Republicans oppose many of the recommendations.
GOP Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson of Pennsylvania and Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, the top Republicans on the committees that draft legislation related to food and nutrition, have raised concerns over the conference, calling it partisan.
Responding to the charge, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters, “Well, there are 433 other members of the House. It’s good to hear their views, I obviously disagree.”
Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., the Senate GOP sponsor of legislation funding the conference, participated in a legislative panel at the start of the event. But he stayed away from discussing potential bills, focusing instead on private partnerships and his own experience as a business owner.
When asked about the partisan divides, Vilsack credited Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., for helping to push through legislation that provided universal free meals over the summer and flexibilities to schools on what they can serve as they grapple with supply chain issues. Boozman’s office said he not attend the event due to scheduling conflicts.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra also pushed back on the notion that the conference is partisan, noting the legislation funding the bill was bipartisan.
“There’s clearly support for looking at food as medicine, there’s clearly support for addressing nutrition to get you to better health, there’s clearly support for more fitness for all Americans,” Becerra told NPR. “To me those are nonpartisan issues. … There are any number of people who are suffering from diabetes, heart disease, and I guarantee you they have Ds and Rs back behind their name.”
The government and companies want to act without Congress, too A major component of the White House’s strategy is reliant on partnerships with companies and nonprofits. Private companies have committed over $8 billion in investments to help reach the White House goals. For example, Tyson is committing $250 million over seven years to increase access to protein products, particularly at foodbanks.
“Some of the most successful government programs focused on health and nutrition are built around collaboration with the private sector,” said John R. Tyson, executive vice president and strategy and chief sustainability officer at Tyson, adding that the effort will expand an existing program the company has where they provide grants for foodbanks for bigger fridges and storage equipment to hold and pack more food. “That’s another example of where an event like this could potentially yield some innovation around how we get food to people who need it.
Other groups, however, want to see more from the government. “We need urgency and the political will to end hunger, which only the federal government is equipped to truly address. Relying on charities will only dilute that effort,” said Josh Protas, vice president of public policy for MAZON, a Jewish antihunger group.
“Ultimately, we can’t just outsource our collective responsibility; we can’t foodbank our way to ending hunger.” Vilsack and Becerra said USDA and HHS will be checking in on the progress of the commitments. And there are some things that agencies can get started on.
USDA has some flexibility to expand a program that allows schools in low-income areas to provide free meals. The Food and Drug Administration will also begin to look at changes to nutrition labels to put them on the front and regulate how the word “healthy” is used on packages. However, any changes are expected to take months and years to implement. Advocates are hopeful the conference serves as a first step towards future investments and policy changes.
USDA Invests Nearly $2 Billion, Leverages American Agriculture to Feed Kids & Families
September 14, 2022, USDA
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that it will provide close to $2 billion in additional funding to food banks and school meal programs for purchasing American-grown foods. The additional support will help these organizations endure supply chain challenges and elevated food costs as they continue to fulfill their mission of providing nutritious foods to kids and families in need.
The funds, provided through USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation, or CCC, will be used in three ways:
- Nearly $1 billion to purchase food for emergency food providers like food banks
- Nearly $500 million to expand the Local Food Purchase Assistance, or LFPA, cooperative agreement program, through which 49 states, 33 tribes, and four territories are already working to purchase local foods for their emergency food systems; and
- Nearly $500 million for schools across the country to purchase food for their lunch and breakfast programs, bringing the total CCC investment in school food since December 2021 to close to $2.5 billion, benefiting the roughly 30 million students who participate in school lunch and 15 million who participate in school breakfast each day.
“Funding these initiatives is paramount in the fight against hunger, and further demonstrates the Biden-Harris Administration and USDA’s commitment to strengthen food and nutrition security,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We must ensure Americans have access to safe, healthy, affordable food for longevity and optimal health.”
The investment is part of the Department’s broader commitment to strengthening the supply chain and making nutritious food more accessible for families.
“Food banks and schools are the backbone of our nutrition safety net, serving tens of millions of children and families,” said Stacy Dean, Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. “The Biden Administration understands that supply chain disruptions and high food costs have created uncertainties for these crucial partners, and we are committed to equipping them with the resources they need to keep communities fed, strong, and healthy.”
“These programs directly connect American producers with food banks and schools, strengthening our rural economies while helping those most in need,” said Under Secretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Jenny Lester Moffitt. “As part of the Biden Administration’s commitment to transforming our nation’s food system, USDA is dedicated to fostering partnerships between producers and food assistance programs. Working together, farmers, food banks, and schools, can improve our nation’s food and nutrition security.”
The Biden Administration has taken bold, broad-reaching actions to help mitigate the effects of inflation on American families and ensure they can keep healthy food on the table. Other recent USDA efforts to help families cope with high food costs and other challenges include:
- Purchasing up to $50 million in domestically produced rice: Earlier this week, USDA announced plans to purchase rice for distribution to a variety of domestic food assistance programs, including charitable institutions, to help address the worsened risk of hunger and food insecurity caused by disruptions in the domestic food supply chain resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Providing summertime child food benefits: USDA is providing the families of nearly 32 million children with approximately $391 per child for summer 2022, with higher amounts in Alaska, Hawaii, and U.S. territories. These benefits through the Summer P-EBT program are helping families cover food costs.
- Offering broad support for school meals: In addition to providing schools with additional funds to purchase food, USDA launched a school meals webpage for families with information about applying for free and reduced-price school meals; encouraged states to maximize their resources for serving more kids through school meals; provided schools and child care centers with additional temporary reimbursements and other flexibilities; and more.
- Increasing WIC purchasing power: USDA extended the WIC cash-value benefit increase through the end of this fiscal year so WIC families can buy and consume more fruits and vegetables to support their overall health.
- Bolstering food banks: On top of the CCC funds announced today, USDA continues to provide significant funding for food banks and pantries to help them meet increasing needs.
- Strengthening connections and food access across local and regional food systems: In addition to the funds announced today, USDA has provided $400 million for local purchasing through LFPA and $200 million to help schools procure local products through the Local Food for Schools cooperative agreement program.
- Supporting a food system that is equitable, resilient, and fair. These efforts build on USDA’s generational investment to transform our food system in support of more and better markets for both consumers and producers. Additional details on this broader effort are available at https://www.usda.gov/build-back-better.
Background on the nearly $1 billion purchase of food for emergency food providers:
USDA will use $943 million to procure USDA Foods for use by emergency feeding organizations facing increased need. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and Food and Nutrition Service will work jointly to identify products most likely to be available for purchase, and offer those products based on a formula to The Emergency Food Assistance Program, or TEFAP, State agencies for further distribution to local agencies, primarily food banks. USDA will open orders in Fiscal Year 2023, with deliveries occurring on an ongoing basis throughout Fiscal Years 2023 and 2024.
A percentage of the $943 million will support incidental costs incurred by local agencies for the storage and transportation of the USDA Foods, as provided for under the authority at section 5(c) of the Charter Act. Funds will be allocated to State agencies in proportion to the amount of food ordered for local distribution, with all funds passed through to the local agencies.
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and its Commodity Procurement Program annually buy more than $3 billion of domestically produced and processed meat, poultry, fruit, vegetables, dairy, grains and oilseed. These purchases of wholesome, high-quality products, collectively called USDA Foods, support American agriculture by encouraging the consumption of domestic foods and provide safe, nutritious food for a variety of federal, state and international nutrition assistance programs. They are delivered to schools, food banks and households in communities across the country and are a vital component of our nation’s food safety net.
Background on the nearly $500 million for Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program:
LFPA supports states, territories and tribes to purchase food from historically underserved producers as well as local and regional producers to support emergency food assistance efforts. An allocation of $471.5 million will be used for cooperative agreements with states, tribes, and territories to purchase locally available food grown within each state or within 400 miles of the delivery destination that will be distributed to meet the unique local needs of each community through emergency nutrition programs, including food banks, schools and organizations that reach underserved communities.
Background on the nearly $500 million for schools across the country to purchase food for their lunch and breakfast programs:
An investment of another $471.5 million will be used for the third round of Supply Chain Assistance funds provided to States to support the purchase of American-grown foods for their meal programs. Supply Chain Assistance funding can be used by school districts to purchase unprocessed and minimally processed domestic food such as fresh fruit, milk, cheese, frozen vegetables and ground meat. Each state will allocate the funds to schools based on student enrollment, with a minimum amount per district to ensure that small schools are not left behind.
This assistance builds on the two rounds of Supply Chain Assistance funds that totaled nearly $2 billion that USDA previously allocated in December 2021 and June 2022. These funds deliver direct relief from ongoing supply chain issues and improve the quality and consistency of school meals for children in communities experiencing disruptions, making it easier for schools to operate successful meal programs.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
More information about these new commodity purchases is available on the AMS Commodity Procurement Program webpage.