Tag Archives: Obesity

Kraft and Sara Lee back Obama

The Chicago breaking news center reports in the article “Local food execs sign on to Michele Obama’s anti obesity campaign” that the program includes a pledge from 40 executives of major food producers and agribusinesses to help promote healthy eating.

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Produce for Better Health supporting First Lady’s childhood obesity initiative

Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) was delighted to hear the announcement of First Lady Michelle Obama’s plans to launch a major initiative on childhood obesity. Like Mrs. Obama, PBH has viewed the growing prevalence of obesity in both adults and children with increasing alarm, and we applaud her decision to help us turn the tide on this disturbing trend.

PBH shares Mrs. Obama’s concerns about the number of children who are overweight or obese, and therefore at increased risk for chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Obesity levels have more than doubled among adults and tripled among children and adolescents from 1980 to 2004. Currently, two-thirds of adults and nearly one out of every three children in the United States are overweight or obese.

PBH works with Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and other partners to reverse this trend by helping parents, schools and communities to raise healthy, well-nourished children. Our goal is to encourage all Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables for their better health. The foundation provides nutrition education materials, tips, recipes, and other information to encourage and support healthy lifestyle choices via the Fruits & Veggies-More Matters® national public health initiative.

“Michelle Obama has called obesity in this country a public health crisis that is threatening our children, our families, and our future, and I couldn’t agree more,” said Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D., president and CEO of PBH. “As a registered dietitian and a Mom, it is heartening to see our First Lady put the good health and good nutrition of all our children at such a high priority.”

The potential benefits associated with eating more fruits and vegetables are numerous. Eating plenty of fruits and veggies may help reduce the risk of many diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers. Being naturally low in calories and rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables help to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. They are rich in vitamins and minerals and other compounds beneficial to health that scientists are only beginning to understand. According to the USDA’s report, Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, fruits and vegetables are the foods that should be eaten most often. “What you eat is one of the most important decisions you can make each day to impact your health, and fruits and vegetables are the one area where most Americans fall short,” said Pivonka. “Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is a valuable step you can take to feel healthy and energized.”

PBH provides low-cost nutrition education materials to parents, schools, healthcare providers, and others through its nutrition education catalog, www.pbhcatalog.com, and as free, downloadable materials on its main website, www.pbhfoundation.org, and its consumer website, www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org.

Michele Obama Announces Plans to Combat Obesity and Support Healthy Choices

First Lady Michelle Obama, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin announced plans to help Americans lead healthier lives through better nutrition, regular physical activity, and by encouraging communities to support healthy choices. At a YMCA in Alexandria, VA, they talked directly with national and local leaders, parents and health professionals about reducing overweight and obesity in adults and children.

You can watch the full news conference here. Obama’s comments begin around 27:45 in the 45 minute video.

The First Lady recently announced that she will launch a major initiative on childhood obesity in the next few weeks and has asked HHS to play a key role.  The HHS released The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation this week .  In her first release to the nation, Dr. Benjamin highlights the alarming trend of overweight and obese Americans, and asks them to join her in a grassroots effort to commit to changes that promote the health and wellness of our families and communities.

“The surge in obesity in this country is nothing short of a public health crisis that is threatening our children, our families, and our future,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “In fact, the health consequences are so severe that medical experts have warned that our children could be on track to live shorter lives than their parents.  The paper released today is an incredibly important step in directing the Nation’s attention to solving the obesity epidemic and we do not have a moment to waste.”

The prevalence of obesity has more than doubled among adults and has tripled among children and adolescents from 1980 to 2004.  Currently, two-thirds of adults and nearly one in three children are overweight or obese.  Increased food intake, a sedentary lifestyle, and environments that make it difficult for people to make healthy choices but easy to consume extra calories, all contribute to the epidemic of overweight and obesity. This epidemic threatens the progress we have made in increasing Americans’ quality and years of healthy life.

“Curbing the obesity epidemic requires committed people and organizations across the nation working together to take action,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Today, we outline a vision for the nation that requires parents, neighborhoods, the medical community, employers, schools and individuals to take a coordinated and comprehensive approach to combating overweight and obesity.”

Additionally, many racial and ethnic groups and geographic regions of the United States are disproportionately affected. For instance, African American girls and Hispanic boys are more likely to be obese compared to non-Hispanic whites.  Among adults, American Indian and Alaskan native adults have the highest rates of obesity.  The sobering impact of these numbers is reflected in the nation’s concurrent epidemics of diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases. Researchers warn that if trends are not reversed, our children will be seriously afflicted with medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease in early adulthood.

“Americans will be more likely to change their behavior if they have a meaningful reward – something more than just reaching a certain weight or dress size,” said Dr. Benjamin.  “The real reward is invigorating, energizing, joyous health.  It is a level of health that allows people to embrace each day and live their lives to the fullest without disease or disability.”

The recommendations in The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation include:

Improving our communities – Neighborhoods and communities should become actively involved in creating healthier environments.  The availability of supermarkets, outdoor recreational facilities and the limitation of advertisements of less healthy foods and beverages are all examples of ways to create a healthier living environment.

Healthy Choices and Healthy Home Environments – Change starts with the individual choices Americans make each day for themselves, their families and those around them. Reducing the consumption of sodas and juices with added sugars; eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains; limiting television time; and being more physically active help us achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Creating Healthy Child Care Settings – It is estimated that more than 12 million children ages 0-6 receive some form of child care on a regular basis from someone other than their parents.  Parents should talk with their child care providers about changes to promote their children’s health.

Creating Healthy Schools – To help students develop life-long health habits, schools should provide appealing healthy food options including fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, water and low-fat beverages. School systems should also require nutrition standards and daily physical education for students.

Creating Healthy Work Sites – Employers can implement wellness programs that promote healthy eating in cafeterias, encourage physical activity through group classes and create incentives for employees to participate.

Mobilizing Medical Communities – Medical care providers must make it a priority to teach their patients about the importance of good health. Doctors and other health care providers are often the most trusted source of health information and are powerful role models for healthy lifestyle habits.

To view The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation, visit www.surgeongeneral.gov

Obama Wants to Lead Efforts to Reduce Child Obesity

In the Washington Post, reporter Robin Givhan in the article “We’ve gotten a lot done, Michele Obama says” writes that Obama declared her intent in 2010 to lead the administration’s efforts to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity.

Marion Nestle’s Top 10 for 2010

Marion Nestle has come up with a Top 10 list for nutrition issues for 2010 on her Food Politics blog that includes hunger and obesity.

Foods Advertised to Children on TV Remain Nutritionally Poor, Despite Industry Pledge

A new study by Children Now reveals the failure of the food and beverage industry’s “Better-for-You” initiative to achieve promised improvements in the nutritional quality of foods advertised to children.

The report raises serious doubt about the future viability of industry self-regulation to help address the growing epidemic of childhood obesity.

In 2007, major food companies such as Kellogg, General Mills, ConAgra and PepsiCo banded together and pledged to stop advertising unhealthy foods to children.

Children Now’s report, The Impact of Industry Self-Regulation on the Nutritional Quality of Foods Advertised on Television to Children, holds the industry accountable to its promise.

Despite a major effort at self-regulation, nearly three out of four (72.5%) of the foods advertised on television to children are for products in the poorest nutritional category. Known as “Whoa” foods, these products should be consumed only on “special occasions, such as your birthday,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Advertising for truly healthy foods, such as vegetables and fruits, known as “Go” products, is virtually invisible. Commercials for such foods account for only 1% of all food advertising to children.

“We cannot win the battle against childhood obesity as long as we continue to allow the industry to bombard children with ads for foods that they really shouldn’t eat very often,” said Dr. Dale Kunkel of the University of Arizona, who conducted the study for Children Now. “Other countries have already put a stop to this type of commercial exploitation, and it’s time for the U.S. to act more responsibly to protect the health of the nation’s children.”

Another key finding of the study is that food marketers increasingly use licensed characters to promote foods of the poorest nutritional quality to children. Nearly half of all food ads with popular children’s characters (49%), such as SpongeBob SquarePants, are for so-called “Whoa” products that pose the greatest risk for obesity.

“Using licensed characters to sell unhealthy foods to children is an unfair practice, and has to be stopped,” said Ted Lempert, president of Children Now.

A strong body of existing research, including a 2006 research review by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, concludes that children’s expo­sure to television advertising for non-nutritious food products is a significant risk factor con­tributing to childhood obesity.

Amidst the resulting increase in public concern, the food and beverage industry pledged to voluntarily reduce the advertising of unhealthy foods to children through the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative.

Sixteen of the nation’s top food companies–Kellogg, Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola, Cadbury Adams, Campbell Soup, McDonald’s, ConAgra Foods, Dannon, General Mills, Burger King, Hershey, Mars, Post, PepsiCo, Nestle and Unilever–participate in the initiative.

The study, funded by The California Endowment, provides the first inde­pendent, comprehensive evaluation of the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Ini­tiative and its impact on the children’s food marketing environment on television.

“We have given the industry time and opportunity to address this issue,” said Jeff McIntyre, director of national policy for Children Now. “Unfortunately, the research indicates that their pledges have failed our children. We cannot afford to wait, since advertising has been identified as a key factor contributing to childhood obesity. We need strong regulation to address this quickly and aggressively.”

The Impact of Industry Self-Regulation on the Nutritional Quality of Foods Advertised on Television to Children is available for free online here.

CBS News: America is overweight

CBS News Sunday Morning in the story “Obesity: a weighty issue” notes that America is 4.6 Billion Lbs. Overweight, and Our Health Care System Is Straining From the Weight of It All.