Rudd Center Releases New Weight Bias Video Targeted at Children and Teens
The Rudd Center has released a new educational video and discussion guide in its internationally-acclaimed weight bias video series, highlighting the issue of weight bias among children and teens. Designed to initiate and support discussion of weight prejudice in middle school, high school, and other youth group settings, this 17-minute video is a must-see and must-share for parents and educators.
“Weight Prejudice: Myths & Facts” features Bene, a camcorder-toting teen who turns a class biology project into an important lesson about the impact and myths of weight prejudice. She brings key issues out into the open, helping kids and teens realize that weight prejudice is wrong. Viewers will also learn how to help themselves and their classmates increase awareness and cope with weight-based teasing.
“Overweight and obese youth are especially vulnerable to weight-based victimization, both at school and at home, which poses serious risks to their emotional and physical health, “ said Rebecca Puhl, PhD, Rudd Center Director of Research and Weight Stigma Initiatives. “We hope that this video will help increase awareness of the pervasiveness of this problem in today's youth, and the importance of protecting children from weight bias and its consequences."
The Rudd Center offers many free weight bias resources for children, teens, parents, teachers, and health care professionals, including the videos “Weight Bias at Home and School” and “Weight Bias in Health Care.”
E-mail the Rudd Center to receive free DVDs of the videos and specify which DVD(s) you would like to receive.
Impact of Menu Labeling: People Eat Less When They Know More
Calorie labels on restaurant menus result in the consumption of significantly fewer calories, according to a new study from the Rudd Center. The study, which measures the impact of menu-labeling regulations, appears online in the American Journal of Public Health.
The researchers studied 303 adults in New Haven, Connecticut, dividing them into three groups — the first saw a menu with no calorie labels, the second saw a menu with calorie labels, and the third saw a menu with calorie labels plus information on the recommended daily caloric intake for an average adult.
Participants in the two groups who saw calorie labels ate 14 percent fewer calories than the group whose participants did not see calorie labels. But, when after-dinner eating was factored in, people in the group who saw menu labels and recommended calorie guidelines consumed an average of 250 fewer calories than people in the other groups.
“This shows that adding a label about daily caloric needs to menu labeling positively impacts people’s food choices, driving them to eat fewer calories,” said lead author Christina Roberto, MS, a Yale PhD student in Clinical Psychology and Epidemiology and Public Health. The other authors were Yale’s Peter D. Larsen, MPhil, Henry Agnew, BA, Jenny Baik, BA, and Kelly D. Brownell, PhD, Rudd Center Director.
“Menu labeling is a public health ‘no brainer,’” added Dr. Brownell. “It is easy for restaurants to do and enhances consumers' awareness about their choices.”
It has been difficult to draw conclusions from previous research on the impact of menu labeling because the results have been mixed. However, unlike previous research, the new study measured what people ate both during and after a meal. These results indicate a causal relationship between menu labeling and reduced food intake.
Nutrition Standards for Foods Marketed to Children Introduced at FTC Hearing
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held a public hearing in December to review concerns over food marketing and childhood obesity. A collaborative working group of members from the FTC, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Federal Drug Administration proposed nutritional standards for foods marketed to children under the age of 18.
The recommended standards suggest that children should have limited exposure to ads for foods high in saturated fats, sugar, and sodium. Marketing should be encouraged for foods that make “a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet” such as lean meats, low-fat dairy products, fruits, and vegetables.
FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz applauded the efforts of the 16 companies that have pledged to advertise healthier products to children. Elaine Kolish, Director of the Better Business Bureau’s Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, insisted the self-regulatory approach is working, and that companies have “done exactly what they’ve pledged to do, and more.”
However, findings released in a 2009 Rudd Center report, Cereal FACTS, suggest otherwise. The report shows that, even though the cereal companies have followed through on their pledges, they continue to market products high in sugar and sodium to children when the companies have much more nutritious products in their brand portfolios. Jennifer Harris, PhD, MBA, Rudd Center Director of Marketing Initiatives, attended the FTC hearing and presented on “Direct Effects of Television Food Advertising: Priming Consumption.” She believes “a sugar content of three teaspoons per serving does not make products such as Reese’s Puffs, Lucky Charms, or Froot Loops ‘better-for-you.’ If children’s food marketers choose to follow the nutrition standards proposed by the inter-agency working group, they would show a real commitment to improving the health of children.”
David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, noted these nutrition standards are recommendations, not regulations, and therefore are non-binding. Vladeck did warn, however, that companies should heed the FTC’s recommendations and improve food marketing tactics. Otherwise, “Congress may decide for all of us.”
Congress is set to review the proposed nutrition and food marketing standards in 2010.
Rudd Center Affiliated Faculty Spotlight: Nathan Novemsky, PhD
Nathan Novemsky is Professor of Marketing and Fellow at the Center for Customer Insights at the Yale School of Management. His research examines consumer behavior, focusing on the use of information in situations where multiple pieces of information are available and on mis-predictions of the enjoyment of experiences.
Dr. Novemsky was recently involved in a project examining how food choices are made in grocery stores. The research explored the choices between healthy and less healthy foods and differences in the choice process between low- and middle-income consumers.
Dr. Novemsky was selected as a Marketing Science Institute Young Scholar in 2007 and was a visiting scholar at Wharton's Decision Processes Center. He completed his MA and PhD in Social Psychology at Princeton University and has held an academic appointment at Yale since 2000.
Rudd Center Launches Spring Seminar Series
Gary E. Knell, JD, President and CEO of Sesame Workshop, was a speaker in the Fall 2009 Seminar Series.
The Rudd Center has hosted many renowned experts in academics, public policy, and the media to discuss their work and its implications for the study of obesity, food policy, and weight bias. The Spring 2010 Seminar Series will welcome Mark Bittman, author and New York Times columnist; James E. Tierney, Director of the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School and Former Attorney General of Maine; and Geraldine Henchy, Director of Nutrition Policy at the Food Research and Action Center.
Upcoming Seminar Speakers
Unless otherwise noted, seminars are held at the Rudd Center, located at 309 Edwards Street in New Haven, Connecticut, 06511. They are free and open to the public. Seating is limited. The full schedule for our Spring Seminar Series is available online and for download as a PDF document.
You may sign up to receive weekly E-mail updates from the Rudd Center detailing upcoming seminars and schedule changes.
The Price Elasticity of Food Demand, Systematic Review Published
In order to elucidate how price changes influence demand for various foods, Yale researchers conducted a systematic review that will be published in the American Journal of Public Health in February. Food price elasticity refers to the expected proportional change in product demand for a given percentage change in price. “The Impact of Food Prices on Consumption: A Systematic Review of Research on the Price Elasticity of Demand for Food,” is now available online.
Lead author Tatiana Andreyeva, PhD, Director of Economic Initiatives at the Rudd Center, and coauthors Michael W. Long, PhD, former graduate student at the Yale School of Public Health, and Kelly D. Brownell, PhD, Rudd Center Director, reviewed 160 U.S.-based studies on price elasticity in major food categories that spanned seven decades. The systematic review revealed findings with significant policy implications. For example, the researchers found that a 10 percent increase in soft drink prices should reduce consumption by 8 to 10 percent.
These findings help support the Rudd Center’s position on sugar-sweetened beverage taxes that calls for a shift in current taxes and subsidies to promote healthier food choices.
Dr. Brownell believes this publication will “help guide policies that affect food prices in ways that maximize the benefit to public health.”
Rudd Center Director Named New Haven Register’s ‘Person of the Year’
The influence of Kelly D. Brownell, PhD, Rudd Center Director, was noted by the New Haven Register, as Dr. Brownell was chosen as its 2009 Person of the Year.
Remarking on his research and efforts to pass legislation on the nutrition and marketing of children’s cereals, menu labeling and sugar-sweetened beverage taxes, the Register highlighted many positive changes to the food environment that occurred in the last year. These changes include General Mills’ promise to reduce the sugar content in its cereals, suspension of the food industry’s Smart Choices program, support for a soda tax by President Obama, and passage of a menu labeling bill in the Connecticut General Assembly, which was later vetoed by Gov. Jodi Rell.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chair of FDA's appropriations committee, agreed. “I work with Kelly on these issues because he is a great source of information that is based on strong independent data.”
According to Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, President of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “Kelly is a true leader in the movement to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity in our country.”
Rudd Sound Bites Renewal
The Rudd Center blog, Rudd Sound Bites, is back with an enhanced design that reinforces its position as the place “where food policy meets real life.” In addition to the blog, Rudd Sound Bites features links to our social media applications and allows users to share Rudd Center musings more easily on their favorite sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Visit Rudd Sound Bites today and join the conversation.
The Latest Rudd Center Podcasts
Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
Director, Rudd Center
General Mills’ Sugar Announcement
Gary E. Knell, JD
President and CEO, Sesame Workshop
Our collection of podcasts is available for download on iTunes U, under the Yale University Health & Medicine — Nutrition & Obesity section, or you may subscribe to an RSS Feed that will automatically update whenever new content is released. Podcasts can be listened to on a computer or downloaded to a music player.