Category: Obesity in America

Pew study: Healthy snack policy varies in U.S. schools

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Obesity in America, Obesity in the News

Pew released a report about the sale of snack foods in public schools across the country. It’s based on CDC data and ranks the states on the degree to which they limited the availability of full-fat baked goods, salty snacks, chocolate and other types of candy in secondary schools, as well as the degree to which they offered fruits and vegetables in snack food venues, like school stores, snack bars, and vending machines.

(Pew also has an infographic, available at the right, showing the difference in calories between healthy and less-healthy snack foods.)

The findings:

  • Nationally, the availability of snack foods in secondary schools varies tremendously from state to state.
  • Under this patchwork of policies, the majority of our nation’s children live in states where less-healthy snack food choices are readily available.
  • Overall, the availability of healthy snacks such as fruits and vegetables is limited
  • When states don’t differentiate between more- and less-healthy snacks, the overall snack food environment suffers.
  • While many secondary schools reduced the availability of less-healthy snack foods between 2002 and 2008,17 progress has since stalled.

And a few recommendations:

  • USDA should establish nutrition standards for all snack foods sold regularly on school grounds outside of the school meal programs.
  •  USDA should adopt policies and practices that ensure effective implementation of the standards.

Now to the stats for Georgia. These numbers represent the percentage of secondary schools that sell:

  • Fruits — Georgia is No. 33 at 25.1 percent, median is 28.2 percent
  • Non-fried vegetables — Georgia is No. 30 at 15.5 percent, median is 18.9
  • Cookies, crackers, cakes, pastries, or other baked goods — Georgia is No. 48 and 51 percent, median is 32.3 percent
  • Salty snacks — Georgia is No. 49 at 50.5 percent, median is 26.8 percent
  • Chocolate candy — Georgia is No. 47 at 44.1 percent, median is 19.9 percent
  • Other kinds of candy — Georgia is No. 48 at 51.8 percent, median is 24.9 percent
  • Soda pop or fruit drinks — Georgia is No. 42 at 42.5 percent, median is 28.9 percent

Ga. schools get grants to fight childhood obesity

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Maternal & Childhood Obesity, Obesity in America, Obesity in the News

Georgia health officials have announced that 21 schools have gotten grants to help fight childhood obesity. Here’s info from the Associated Press, featured on the Atlanta CBS website:

The grants total $87,000 and come from the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Governor’s SHAPE initiative. The schools include elementary, middle and high schools throughout the state.

Twelve schools got up to $5,000 to implement physical activity and nutrition plans, while nine others got $3,000 to develop plans. The money will also be used for training and technical assistance.

Health officials say children are more physically active if their schools schedule and promote physical activities. Georgia ranks third in the nation for overweight and obese children.

SHAPE is a statewide initiative that brings together the government, philanthropic, academic and business communities to fight childhood obesity in Georgia.

Gallup: Obesity up in nearly all age groups since 2008

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Obesity in America, Obesity in the News

Nifty data from Gallup in the past few days. I had no idea that they conducted health polls like these.

Check the facts:

The prevalence of obesity among U.S. adults increased significantly between 2008 and 2012, and at least minimal increases occurred among nearly every four-year age group. However, not all age groups exhibited this to the same degree. Rather, Gallup-Healthways data indicate that middle-aged adults and advanced seniors were the most likely to see an increase in the percentage of people in that age group with higher obesity rates than four years ago.

The increase in obesity among middle-aged adults is particularly troubling, because it means these adults will face the health risks of maintaining an unhealthy weight for a longer period of time, resulting in a lower quality of life, more health problems, and a shorter lifespan. This will also add to the nation’s multi-billion dollar healthcare bill. The increase in obesity among the nation’s oldest adults may have fewer long-term implications, but serious short-term ones for this population’s daily wellbeing and quality of life. More effort should be put into helping seniors stay active and informed about their nutritional needs.

Here’s some good news for young people:

The minimal increase in obesity rates among the youngest age groups — those aged 18 to 23 years and 24 to 27 — is promising, because it may indicate that efforts to improve nutritional awareness and foster more exercise among the nation’s youth may be working. Alternatively, it could mean that obesity has reached a saturation point among the young. It will be important to see if these patterns continue.

Former Pres. Clinton says obesity threatens economy, launches fitness initiative

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Obesity in America, Obesity in the News

Former President Bill Clinton spoke during a national forum on childhood obesity at the Peabody Little Rock hotel earlier this week, and he announced a new fitness program to help kids get moving.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette story is behind a paywall, but the San Francisco Chronicle posted a brief about the keynote:

Clinton spoke in Little Rock on Sunday at a national forum on childhood obesity and said staying healthy would help Americans have more money in their pockets.

Clinton says U.S. residents spend almost 18 percent of their income on health care and that making healthy choices would drive that number down.

Clinton’s foundation and the American Heart Association founded the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which in 2006 launched the Healthy Schools Program to provide training and educational resources to schools.

A story on examiner.com gives a bit more detail about the announcement:

The Fit for a Healthier Generation campaign features pre-recorded, 3-5 minute physical activity breaks aimed at getting kids up, moving and having fun throughout the day. The fitness breaks DVDs were produced by Watch It Now Entertainment, a leader in fitness production. The fitness program BOKS, an initiative of the Reebok Foundation, will sponsor the distribution of the more than 30,000 DVDs to communities all across the country.

“Less than 4 percent of elementary schools, 8 percent of middle schools, and 2 percent of high schools provide opportunities for daily physical education,” said President Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation and co-founder of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, via release. “By bringing together some of the leading experts on physical activity in the country, we can show the benefits of living fit and help kids lead healthier lives.”

Obesity and Celebrities: Bill Cosby and Jerry Rice speak up

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Obesity in America, Obesity in the News

Just in time for some Monday Night Football, Jerry Rice is stepping up to talk about obesity.

CBS News gives us the scoop about the NFL’s new program. You can read the same in the Fox News report:

The “60 Million Minutes Challenge” asks kids of all ages to pledge to be active for 60 minutes every day. It’s part of the NFL’s PLAY 60 program, a new initiative launched Monday.

“To reverse the trend of childhood obesity, we need to continue to educate kids and parents about the importance of 60 minutes of daily activity,” Rice said. “That’s what’s great about Kinect for Xbox 360. It gets kids off the couch and gets their whole body in the game. Being a healthy kid can lead to being a healthy adult.”

The folks at the NFL and Microsoft Corp., which makes the Xbox 360 video system central to this initiative, are offering incentives such as gift cards for merchandise and personalized autographs on Facebook to youngsters who join up.

Because the entire body is the controller through Kinect for Xbox 360, the amount of exercise a player gets easily dwarfs the more conventional approaches for video games in which the fingers and the wrists get the biggest workouts.

In addition, Bill Cosby popped up at a panel discussion on the health of Philadelphia. The overwhelming worry was about obesity.

CBS Philly shows us his personality on the panel:

Cosby displayed his health activist side by suggesting a mid-afternoon snack of a little baggie of meat protein and a second of veggies as a way to avoid a caffeine jolt or ripping open a snack pack of something.

“If I read the small print and I see that what I love to taste has predatomapotamine, fake slimotanimlaning, I don’t care,” says Cosby. “I just want to eat it.”

School lunches served in the low-income program took a hit, as three forms of sugar with a little canned fruit thrown in.

 

BPA concerns now related to obesity

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Obesity in America, Obesity in the News

A new study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association has found that high levels of urinary BPA are associated with an increased risk of childhood obesity.

The FDA is still studying this, so take it as you will. But read up from stories posted this week:

NY Times parenting blog about BPA and youth obesity.

NY Times Well blog also comments on BPA and obesity.

Even blogs such as Natural News picked up on the BPA-child obesity story, and The Daily Sheeple discusses how BPA disrupts metabolic rates.

Want the official word? This is what the FDA thinks about BPA for now.

Too Fat to Fight: Military generals speak out against junk food in schools

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Obesity in America, Obesity in the News

Wow. When the National Press Club hosts speakers, the word gets out.

It’s time to fight obesity, military leaders told them this week. You can read the reports in many publications. Here are some snippets:

St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

In the past 60 years, the pool of potential American soldiers has gone from too skinny to too fat.

Now the childhood obesity epidemic is a threat to national security, says a group of veterans.

Obesity is the most common medical reason that potential recruits are disqualified from service, according to the report “Still Too Fat to Fight” released Tuesday by Mission: Readiness, a Washington-based nonprofit representing more than 300 retired military leaders.

MedPage Today, by David Pittman, who was editor-in-chief of The Red & Black when I started working as a freshman!

Washington Post blog

USA Today

Mission: Readiness sent this press release, which has the interesting fun facts:

Schools are selling 400 billion calories of junk food every year—the equivalent of nearly two billion candy bars and more than the weight of the aircraft carrier Midway—according a new report from Mission: Readiness, a group of more than 300 retired generals and admirals.

The report, entitled Still Too Fat to Fight, calls for stronger standards for foods and beverages sold at school.

“Childhood obesity is more than just a health issue, it is also a national security issue,” said retired US Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2001 to 2005. “Seventy-five percent of all young Americans are unable to join the military and being overweight or obese is the number one medical reason why young adults cannot enlist.”

And then there’s the statement of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, which more fun numbers about the money and numbers behind it all:

Every year the military has to discharge about 1,200 first-term enlistees due to weightrelated issues at a cost upwards of $60 million, and the Department of Defense spends an additional $1.4 billion a year on obesity-related problems.

I am proud that the Department of Defense is doing its part by initiating a groundbreaking campaign to reshape military installations into a healthier environment for troops and their families. We’ve started by updating menu standards in our mess halls and crowding out junk food in vending machines and snack bars with better choices.

Military children are an important focus of our campaign, and we hope that they and their peers in schools off base are provided with healthier options so they have the opportunity to make better choices.

No one who wants to be a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine wakes up at age 17 and suddenly finds himself or herself overweight. Good eating habits are learned early in life and are shaped by parents and the environment where children spend the better part of their day.

Still want to read more? Here’s the link to Mission:Readiness — http://www.missionreadiness.org/2012/stilltoofattofight/

Kansas teens: New federal school lunch rules leave us hungry

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Obesity in America, Obesity in the News

Fox 4 News in Kansas City captured this interesting story about teens who say new federal school lunch guidelines are leaving them hungry. The new rules restrict intake at 850 calories for lunch.

The story:

Students at a Wallace County high school in the western Kansas town of Sharon Springs created a video spoof, mocking the new rules, inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Some of the lyrics read, “Give me some second sides I need to get some food today.  My friends are at the corner store getting junk so they don’t waste away.”

The video has more than 108,000 views using the base song, “We are Young” by the band Fun.

“Tonight, we are hungry. Set the policy on fire.  It can burn brighter, than the sun,” the song reads.