Monday, March 14, 2005

NCSL summarizes proposals to address childhood obesity

Here is a nice roundup from the National Conference of State Legislatures. It summarizes proposed legislation at the state level, under several headings:

  • Advertising to Children – Noting that children view an estimated 40,000 commercials each year, 50 percent of which advertise food products, California legislators enacted a resolution asking for responsible food and beverage marketing to children. Legislators found that studies show that food advertising and marketing result in more favorable attitudes, preferences and behaviors toward advertised products and that children’s food preferences are influenced by television food advertising.
  • Availability of Nutritious Groceries – Studies show that living in communities without adequate access to supermarkets limits nutritious food choices and my contribute to long-term health problems, such as diabetes or heart disease, and diet-related deaths at a rate higher than the population as a whole. Pennsylvania legislators passed a resolution calling for a report on the shortage of supermarkets in urban and underserved areas. With bipartisan legislative sponsorship, an economic development program to bring more supermarkets into underserved communities has followed.
  • Body Mass Index Measurement and Reporting to Parents – In 2003, Arkansas became the first state to require schools to annually provide parents with information about student body mass index as part of each student’s report card, including an explanation of possible health effects of body mass index, nutrition, and physical activity.
  • Diabetes Screening and Management –Bills to require screening, risk analysis or testing of school children for diabetes were enacted in 2003 in California and Illinois, and introduced in New York. Noninvasive screening of school children is aimed at promoting an earlier response to prevent or respond to type 2 diabetes. Legislation aimed at improving care and diabetes management for children with diabetes in school or daycare settings was introduced in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia.
  • Insurance Coverage for Obesity Prevention and Treatment – Legislation mandating health insurance coverage for obesity reduction treatments and prevention programs for children and adolescents was introduced in 2004 in Hawaii and Maryland. In addition, legislators in Hawaii requested the state auditor’s office to assess the social and financial effects of requiring health insurers to cover obesity reduction programs for children and adolescents.
  • Nutrition Education – Legislators have taken a variety of approaches to encourage nutrition education for children, youth and parents, beginning with prenatal education and continuing through the school years. Many believe that with better information, children and their families will make better nutritional choices.
  • Nutrition Standards in Schools – Proposals for ensuring more healthy food and beverage choices for school children were also considered in many states in 2003 and 2004. Options being considered include demonstration projects, the development of school nutrition policies or standards at the state or local level, and guidelines for how school foods can meet standards or prohibit the sale of foods with high sugar or fat content. States have considered prohibiting the sale of foods competitive with the School Breakfast Program or National School Lunch Program and at directing state boards of education to adopt nutrition standards for public schools throughout the state. (Note: For a discussion focused specifically on vending machines in schools and recent legislation, see the NCSL website at: http://www.ncsl.org/programs/health/vending.htm.)
  • Obesity Prevention and Education – States with legislative proposals calling for childhood obesity prevention or education initiatives included Hawaii, Illinois, and New York. Illinois considered a proposal to appropriate $500,000 for a grant to the Cook County Department of Public Health to establish a childhood obesity prevention education and awareness program, and a separate proposal for the state Department of Public Health to establish the same type of program for children and adolescents, especially for populations with high rates of obesity and obesity-related health complications. Legislation in New York would have established a Childhood Obesity Prevention program within the Department of Health to prevent and reduce childhood and adolescent obesity and created a fund for the program by taxing certain foods with minimal nutritional value and video sales or rentals.
  • Physical Education or Physical Activity in Schools – Forty-eight states have some type of physical education requirement, but only Illinois currently requires daily physical education for school children and waivers can be granted. Recent proposed legislation has focused on refining or increasing physical education requirements or encouraging positive physical activity programs for students at recess or other opportunities for physical activity at school.
  • Taxes on Certain Foods or Beverages with Minimal Nutritional Value – A New York bill introduced in 2003 (AB 9145) proposed an additional tax on certain food and drink items and on the sale or rental of video and computer games, commercials, and analog or digital video movies; and would have directed moneys from the tax to the Childhood Obesity Prevention Program Fund.
Thanks to the Community Nutrition Institute for the link.

7 comments:

Ana said...

hie,
I find your blog very interesting. With regards to your topics of discussion, im doing an assignment about food policy aimed at childhood obesity to be carried out at a local school. What is America currently doing with regards to policy making? Thanks. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

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Marie said...

Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. It is always great pleasure to read your posts.