In a large scale study examining the relationship between state laws regarding the types of snacks and drinks sold in public schools, researchers found that stronger laws limiting availability of unhealthy snacks were correlated with less weight gain over a 3 year period during late childhood/early adolescence. For a review of the study, please visit the following website: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/13/health/research/study-links-healthy-weight-in-children-with-tough-snack-and-sugary-drinks-laws.html?_r=1&smid=fb-share.
“Screen time” activities like playing video games and watching TV have been described as key factors in the rising childhood and adult obesity epidemic. However, companies like the nonprofit organization Hopelab are using the interest in technology to their advantage to promote healthy behaviors.
Their program Zamzee is designed to get kids moving by letting them log “pointz” that they can redeem for prizes. Activity is logged electronically via an accelerometer worn by the child and transferred to the computer by USB, where the user can view their progress and activity in relation to other users in a virtual competition.
For more information about a variety of technology-backed approaches to engage kids and adults alike in healthy behaviors, see this story by CNN: http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2012/08/tech/gaming.series/obesity.html?hpt=he_c1.
On Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Michelle Obama announced changes to government-subsidized school meals that are part of the Obama administration’s effort to reduce obesity among youth by promoting improved nutrition and exercise habits.
Key aspects of the new requirements include: doubling daily servings of fruits and vegetables, serving only whole grains, milk must be low fat, and salt and trans fat maximums.
For more information, you can read the new rules or the New York Times article which includes a more detailed summary and interviews with key government and food industry leaders.
A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) finds that the percentage of the population that is obese has not changed significantly in the last 10 years. That the rates remain steady, at 35.7% of adults and 16.9% of children being obese, indicates that attempts at improving the population’s health by reducing excess adiposity have not been successful in the last decade.
A description of the CDC’s findings is available from the New York Times. The full report was published online by JAMA on January 17.