April 13, 2010
Students Stand Up for Healthier Food at School
According to the Chicago Tribune, at a March 24 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students came before the board to complain about the food served at their schools. Describing the “sickening pizza”, “hard bread” and “tan-colored slop”, the students made a compelling case for new food options at their schools, asserting that their health was at risk.
One student described the plight of lower-income students who rely on school lunch to provide the nutrition they need each day, but instead are served high-fat, low-quality meals. Available fruits and vegetables were described as sub-par, such as brown lettuce and moldy fruit. CPS student Asia Snyder was reportedly direct: “You feed us fat, greasy, disgusting meals . . ..It’s what’s making us fat.”
Bob Bloomer, regional vice president of Chartwells-Thompson (the provider of food for 478 CPS schools), declared that students are the problem, stating that food offerings like whole-grain nachos and pizza with low-fat meat are the best they can do, because “we try to make what they like healthy and low-fat”.
However, CPS CEO Rob Huberman vowed that there would be change, stating that the coming weeks would see a “big restructuring of the food services process.” Additionally, a CPS spokeswoman said that schools would see more healthy options added, and it has been reported that CPS is already phasing out items such as nachos, doughnuts and pop-tarts. In fact, last week the Chicago Public Schools announced new nutritional standards for school meals.
Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law student Erin Rohne for preparing this post. Ms. Rohne is a student of Professor Donna M. Byrne.
February 23, 2010
General Mills reducing sugar in kids’ cereal
After much pressure from those concerned with the growing rates of childhood obesity, General Mills has announced they will follow in the footsteps of other major cereal producers by reducing the amount of sugar added to their children’s cereals. A study conducted by Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity found a correlation between the amount of cereal children consumed and the amount of sugar in the cereal. From an MSNBC article:
“The Rudd Center found children who ate highly sweetened cereals ate roughly twice as much as those who ate low-sugar cereals. And some say children are more susceptible to the marketing by food makers.”
Link to the study conducted by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.
This post was prepared by William Mitchell College of Law student Lauren Sparks. Ms. Sparks is a student of Professor Donna M. Byrne.
August 16, 2009
Obama on School Lunches: Likes mangoes for lunch, but hold the french fries
"Do you have the power to make school lunches better?" 11-year-old Damon Weaver asked President Obama.
"We are seeing if we can work to make school lunches at least healthier because a lot of school lunches, there's a lot of french fries and pizza and tatter tots, all kinds of stuff that isn't a well balanced meal," the president replied.
July 22, 2009
More on the TV ad study and Free Will
A few days ago, we blogged a New York Times article about a study of TV ads on snacking.
Snack Ads Spur Children to Eat More
By ALEX MINDLIN
Psychologists recognize that certain behaviors can be automatic. For example, unrecognized external stimuli can unconsciously stir us to anger, spur us to loyalty or incite us to rudeness without our knowing it. . . continue reading
The study, Priming Effects of Television Food Advertising on Eating Behavior, was published in Health Psychology. It examined the effects of TV ads on children as well as adults.
The study is described in an interesting discussion of free will and the role of external stimuli on behavior on the Psychology Today blog, The Natural Unconscious, by John Bargh, one of the authors of the study:
The following is another installment in an ongoing Psychology Today blog debate with Roy Baumeister concerning the existence of free will, for which the new study on automatic effects of TV ads is highly relevant. . . .
Television and other forms of advertising is expressly directed at getting us to do something that is in the best interests of the advertiser, but not necessarily our own. We have already recognized this in the case of cigarette (tobacco smoking) advertising and as a consequence it has been banned now for many years. In the new study, Jennifer Harris and Kelly Brownell of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale and I showed that passive exposure to food advertising on television may contribute to the ongoing obesity epidemic by automatically triggering eating behavior, right then and there while watching TV.
July 20, 2009
TV Snack Ads Make Us Eat More
From the New York Times:
Snack Ads Spur Children to Eat More
By ALEX MINDLIN
Psychologists recognize that certain behaviors can be automatic. For example, unrecognized external stimuli can unconsciously stir us to anger, spur us to loyalty or incite us to rudeness without our knowing it. A new study finds that seeing food ads on television can induce people to eat more snacks while watching.
November 10, 2008
Buy a cupcake? Not in school
From the New York Times:
. . . The old-fashioned school bake sale, once as American as apple pie, is fast becoming obsolete in California, a result of strict new state nutrition standards for public schools that regulate the types of food that can be sold to students. . . .
It seems cupcakes and cookies don't comply with the restrictions on the fat and sugar content of foods sold to students. Since I think almonds are one of the best snack choices around (and more than 35% of the calories are from fat), I get a little ruffled every time I see this kind of restriction. It is hard, however, to defend a cupcake. -- DMB
September 19, 2008
Prenatal maternal diet affects asthma risk in offspring
A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggests that a mother's use of folic acid supplements during pregnancy may contribute to development of asthma in her children. This was a mouse study that sought to test the notion that changes in the mother's diet could cause "changes in DNA methylation resulting in aberrant gene transcription" resulting in development of allergic airway disease in the child.
Here's how HealthDay describes the study:
The study, by researchers at National Jewish Health and Duke University, found that pregnant mice fed diets high in supplements containing methyl-donors (folic acid, L-methionine, choline and genistein) had babies with more severe allergic airway disease than mice born to mothers that consumed diets low in methyl-containing foods.
The mice born to mothers fed high methyl-donor diets had greater asthma severity, more airway hyperactivity, more allergic inflammation in the airways, higher levels of IgE in their blood, and their immune system T-cells were more likely to be the type associated with allergy. Male offspring also transmitted a higher predisposition to allergy airway disease to their pups.
The current issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation also includes an editorial, Prenatal maternal diet affects asthma risk in offspring, by Rachel L. Miller:
. . .One cannot ignore the observation that the increase in asthma prevalence over recent decades approximately coincides with worldwide campaigns that recommend periconceptional dietary folate supplementation. From a public health perspective, the adverse nonrespiratory health consequences of insufficient prenatal folate consumption are legitimate concerns. But an even broader public health issue has surfaced. If confirmed, prenatal exposures may influence the development of asthma not only for our children, but for their children as well.
Here is the study: In utero supplementation with methyl donors enhances allergic airway disease in mice, by John W. Hollingsworth, Shuichiro Maruoka, Kathy Boon, Stavros Garantziotis, Zhuowei Li, John Tomfohr, Nathaniel Bailey, Erin N. Potts, Gregory Whitehead, David M. Brass and David A. Schwartz.
In 1996, the FDA required folate fortification of many flours and flour products in order to prevent spina bifida and other neural tube defects:
In keeping with the recommendations of PHS and the FDA Food Advisory Committee called to study these issues, the Food and Drug Administration is requiring that folic acid be added to specific flour, breads and other grains. These foods were chosen for fortification with folate because they are staple products for most of the U.S. population, and because they have a long history of being successful vehicles for improving nutrition to reduce the risk of classic nutrient deficiency diseases.
These fortified foods include most enriched breads, flours, corn meals, rice, noodles, macaroni and other grain products.
[For what it's worth, I refused to take folic acid supplements, but I made sure I got the full RDA by eating fortified cereal while I was pregnant. My kids both had childhood asthma (but then, I have asthma too).] DMB
August 13, 2008
Interactive Food & Beverage Marketing: Targeting Children and Youth in the Digital Age
Berkeley Media Studies Group (BMSG) has recently released a report on digital marketing to children. Here's the blurb:
"The Proliferation of the media in children's lives has created a new "marketing ecosystem" that encompasses cell phones, mobile music devices, instant messaging, videogames, and virtual three-dimensional worlds. This report by Jeff Chester from the Center for Digital Democracy and Kathryn Montgomery from American University describes new marketing practices that are fundamentally transforming how food and beverage companies do business with young people in the twenty-first century.[download 8 page brief pdf] [download 98 page full report pdf] [see examples, news coverage, and statements from Marion Nestle, Kelly Brownell, the Strategic Alliance, Senator Tom Harkin, and Congressman Edward J. Markey at [digitalads.org]"
"Children in the U.S. are facing a growing health crisis due in part to poor nutrition. Youth who are significantly overweight are at much greater risk for experiencing a variety of serious medical conditions, including digestive disorders, heart and circulatory illnesses, respiratory problems, and Type 2 diabetes, a disease that used to strike only adults. They are also more prone to suffer from depression and other mental illnesses. An estimated 30 percent of boys and 40 percent of girls born in the United States are at risk for being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at some point in their lives. Minority youth populations have been disproportionately affected. For example, African American and Mexican American adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 are more likely to be overweight (at 21 percent and 23 percent, respectively) than are non-Hispanic White children in the same age group (14 percent). The Institute of Medicine has called on all sectors of society—industry, government, health professionals, communities, schools, and families—to address this health crisis."
July 30, 2008
FTC Report Sheds New Light on Food Marketing to Children and Adolescents
"The Federal Trade Commission today announced the results of a study on food marketing to children and adolescents. The report, Marketing Food to Children and Adolescents: A Review of Industry Expenditures, Activities, and Self-Regulation [see also Appendices A-F], finds that 44 major food and beverage marketers spent $1.6 billion to promote their products to children under 12 and adolescents ages 12 to 17 in the United States in 2006. The report finds that the landscape of food advertising to youth is dominated by integrated advertising campaigns that combine traditional media, such as television, with previously unmeasured forms of marketing, such as packaging, in-store advertising, sweepstakes, and Internet. These campaigns often involve cross-promotion with a new movie or popular television program. Analyzing this data, the report calls for all food companies âto adopt and adhere to meaningful, nutrition-based standards for marketing their products to children under 12.â
Thank you to Mary Ann E. Archer, J.D., (Associate Director for Public Services, Warren E. Burger Library, William Mitchell College of Law) for preparing this post.
July 15, 2008
School Nutrition Association meeting in Philly July 20-23
Wish I could go!
July 12, 2008
Rising Food Costs and School Lunches
Food Prices Eat Up School Lunch, by Kathleen Kingsbury
Students at about three-quarters of American schools can expect to find higher prices in their cafeterias when they return this fall, according to a recent survey by the School Nutrition Association. The reason? Skyrocketing costs for nearly every basic food item schools rely on for meals — including a 17% increase in the price of milk and bread since last year.
March 26, 2008
Mom was right! Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day
On March 25, 2008, The New York Times reported that researchers have found adolescents that eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight. According to The Times, the authors of the study “found a direct relationship between eating breakfast and body mass index.” Essentially, the more often a child eats breakfast, the lower the B.M.I.
The five-year longitudinal study was completed by researchers and professors at the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota. The study examined a racially and economically diverse sample from various public schools in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
The study, Breakfast Eating and Weight Change in a 5-Year Prospective Analysis of Adolescents: Project EAT (Eating Among Teens) was published in the March issue of Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The study’s objective was to examine the association between breakfast frequency and 5-year body weight change in adolescents. The study primarily relied on self-reports of weight and eating habits of 2,216 adolescents. Although the study concluded there is an association between breakfast frequency and change in BMI, the study was unable to determine whether the association is in fact causal in nature. The study itself recognizes this in noting “long-term studies…will be needed to evaluate the possibility of an important causal link between breakfast consumption and risk for obesity and chronic diseases.” The study hopes that interventions, especially in a school setting, could be aimed at promoting a healthy breakfast. Such a breakfast might include whole grain cereals, low-fat milk, and fresh fruit.
Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law student Maureen Ventura for preparing this post.
February 12, 2008
Recent Efforts to Ban Junk Food Sales in Schools
According to an early December New York Times Article, federal lawmakers were considering a national ban on selling junk food in school vending machines. The measure, which was an amendment to the farm bill, faced significant hurdles before this beneficial change could become a reality.
Federal lawmakers are considering the broadest effort ever to limit what children eat: a national ban on selling candy, sugary soda and salty, fatty food in school snack bars, vending machines and à la carte cafeteria lines. Whether the measure, an amendment to the farm bill, can survive the convoluted politics that have bogged down that legislation in the Senate is one issue. Whether it can survive the battle among factions in the fight to improve school food is another.
No such luck. On Thursday, December 13, 2007, the Senate dropped the amendment. According to a December 15, 2007 Washington Post Article :
The Senate on Thursday night dropped an amendment to the farm bill that would have banned fatty foods and high-calorie beverages at school snack bars, stores and vending machines, dealing a blow to its chances of passage.
The National School Nutrition Standards Amendment, sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), would have been the first legislation to update the nutrition standards since 1979, a period in which scientific opinion on what foods are appropriate has drastically shifted. Link to the current bill: Bill Summary and Status
Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law student Helen McDonough for preparing this post.
CSPI Report on Junk Food Marketing in Schools
WASHINGTON: Junk-food and soda makers directly market to young children right in their schools, according to a new survey of public schools in Montgomery County, Maryland. Conducted at the request of Montgomery County Council Member George Leventhal, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) found that the most prevalent forms of marketing in schools are signs on the exteriors of vending machines, food sales in vending machines, posters, and school fundraisers.
Eighty-three percent of schools have posters or signs with food or beverage marketing messages (such as posters for Richâs ice cream or Little Debbie snack cakes), and less than half (42 percent) of those signs market healthier categories such as dairy.
more (press release)
Thanks to William Mitchell College of Law student Helen McDonough for preparing this post.
February 07, 2008
Study finds Children on Organic Diets have Lower Pesticide Exposure
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer this week reported on a study published by Environmental Health Perspectives, which found that children who ate non-organic produce were found to have measurable amounts of pesticides in their systems while those children who ate organic produce were found to have no pesticides in their systems.
From the article:
"The transformation is extremely rapid," said Chensheng Lu, the principal author of the study published online in the current issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.
"Once you switch from conventional food to organic, the pesticides (malathion and chlorpyrifos) that we can measure in the urine disappears. The level returns immediately when you go back to the conventional diets," said Lu, a professor at Emory University's School of Public Health and a leading authority on pesticides and children.
Within eight to 36 hours of the children switching to organic food, the pesticides were no longer detected in the testing.
The subjects for his testing were 21 children, ages 3 to 11, from two elementary schools and a Montessori preschool on Mercer Island.
Note:the news article says that the study was published "the current issue" of Environmental Health Perspectives, but the study was actually published in 2005, and as far as we can tell, there has not been a more recent version published.
Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law student Anne Rucker, who prepared this post.
February 01, 2008
Better Childhood Nutrition Increases Economic Prosperity
A study published this week in The Lancet showed a link between early childhood nutrition and economic prosperity later in live. From the International Food Policy Research Institute Press Release:
Washington, DC—Feeding very young children a high-energy, high-protein supplement leads to increased economic productivity in adulthood, especially for men, according to a study published in the current issue of The Lancet, a leading medical journal.
Boys who received the supplement, known as atole, in the first two years of life earned on average 46 percent higher wages as adults, while boys who received atole in their first three years earned 37 percent higher wages on average. Those who first received the supplement after age three did not gain any economic benefits as adults.
This study is the first to present direct evidence of the effects of early childhood nutrition programs on adult economic productivity and incomes. The research was conducted in Guatemala by Emory University, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama, the University of Pennsylvania, and Middlebury College.
Article: Effect of a nutrition intervention during early childhood on economic productivity in Guatemalan adults, The Lancet 2008; 371:411-416 (requires login but registration is free).
January 25, 2008
Baby Formula Additives -- Cornucopia study says not like breast milk
The Cornucopia Institute has just released a report on Omega-3 fatty acid additives in infant formula. A brief summary and an interview with Cornucopia co-founder, Mark Kastel, were aired on NPR's Marketplace today. The full story is available on the Cornucopia website:
Marketing Gimmick” Linked to Serious Infant Illnesses
ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA: A report released today by The Cornucopia Institute presents research indicating that new additives placed in infant formula are seriously endangering the health of some formula-fed newborns and toddlers.
The report, Replacing Mother—Imitating Human Breast Milk in the Laboratory, details research questioning the alleged benefits of adding “novel” omega-3 fatty acids, produced in laboratories and extracted from algae and fungus, into infant formulas. The additives raised health and safety red flags during preapproval testing while aggressive marketing campaigns by some infant formula manufacturers appear to have encouraged new mothers to give up nursing for the questionable infant products.
December 03, 2007
CSPI gives schools poor grades in nutrition
WASHINGTON— Kentucky and Oregon top the nation in healthy school foods policies, but two-thirds of states have no or weak nutrition standards to limit junk-food and soda sales out of vending machines, school stores, and other venues outside of school meals, according to a school foods report card from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). . . .
Most improved honors go to Oregon, which upgraded from an F in last year’s report card to an A-, and Washington state, which moved from an F to a B+. Since CSPI’s last report card in 2006, Oregon passed a comprehensive school snack and beverage policy which limits calories, saturated and trans fat, and sugars in snacks in K-12 schools and limits the sale of most sugary beverages in schools. Both states previously had no guidelines beyond USDA’s bare-bones rules.
NYT on Efforts to Limit Junk Food in Schools
From Sunday's New York Times (website may require registration):
Effort to Limit Junk Food in Schools Faces Hurdles, by Kim Severson
Federal lawmakers are considering the broadest effort ever to limit what children eat: a national ban on selling candy, sugary soda and salty, fatty food in school snack bars, vending machines and à la carte cafeteria lines.
Whether the measure, an amendment to the farm bill, can survive the convoluted politics that have bogged down that legislation in the Senate is one issue. Whether it can survive the battle among factions in the fight to improve school food is another.
Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa and the chairman of the Agriculture Committee, has twice introduced bills to deal with foods other than the standard school lunch, which is regulated by Department of Agriculture.
November 20, 2007
Texas fitness policy for grades 3-12
In attempt to combat the trends and gain some knowledge of how healthy, or unhealthy, Texas students really are, lawmakers during the last legislative session passed a bill requiring school districts to annually assess the fitness and activity levels of all students in grades three through 12, and report those findings to the Texas Education Agency. This bill, which piggy backs on recent changes in the Texas school nutrition policy, is now taking effect throughout the Texas school system.
Food nutrition policy:
fitness bill: (deals only with physical activity, not food)
(Thanks to William Mitchell College of Law student Teri Carlisano for preparing this post)