Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity
The Rudd Center Health Digest

September 2010

Un-Flavoring School Milk


As the new school year begins, the battle over flavored milk continues. A new study found a drop in school milk consumption when children could not choose flavored milk, which makes up 71% of school milk sales. The study was funded by the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), the dairy industry’s national marketing group, and sponsored by the School Nutrition Foundation.
MilkPEP launched a $1 million initiative last year to promote chocolate milk. The group, in partnership with the School Nutrition Foundation, recently hosted a webinar about their findings and why flavored milk should be kept in schools.

The webinar did not mention that flavored milk contains almost as much sugar as soda, leading to 75 extra calories per serving. These “discretionary” calories are from added sugar and fat, and should be consumed after “essential” calories that provide daily nutrient needs are consumed. A physically active 6-year-old child has 170-195 discretionary calories per day.

“Whether you eat 75 calories worth of chocolate candy with your plain milk, or drink chocolate milk where the candy is already included, it’s still 75 extra calories,” said Marlene B. Schwartz, PhD, Rudd Center Deputy Director. “This represents about 40% of the discretionary calories a child should consume in a day. The MilkPEP’s research only shows that when you are used to chocolate milk, you prefer it to plain milk. These studies do not prove that children wouldn’t drink plain milk if that were the only option available from the beginning. Many children have been given sugar-sweetened beverages from a young age and have come to expect all drinks to be sweet. Water and plain milk should be children’s primary beverages.” 

FDA Releases Draft Guidelines on Federal Menu-Labeling Requirements

With the goal of helping Americans make healthier food choices, the federal health care reform legislation requires chain restaurants and vending machines with at least 20 locations nationwide to disclose calorie information to consumers. To help the food industry comply, the FDA recently released a set of guidelines.

The proposed guidelines include:

  • Menus must display calorie information in the same size font as the item or price.
  • Calorie information must also be displayed in online menus used for take-out.
  • Menus must include the statement, “additional information is available upon request,” which includes calories from fat, saturated fat, sodium, sugar, and other nutrients.
  • Custom orders and specials appearing on the menu for fewer than 60 days are exempt from calorie disclosure.
  • Vending machines must display the information in a "clear and conspicuous" manner.

The FDA is required to issue the regulations by March 2011 but will begin enforcing them after an unannounced time period.

Upcoming Seminar Speakers

September 15, 12:30 pm
Peter Kaminsky
Author, Journalist
In Search of the Perfect Pig (and Some Other Delicacies)

September 22, 12:30 pm
Richard F. Daines, MD, FACP
Commissioner of Health, New York State Department of Health
Selling Public Health Policy in Derivative Markets: Lessons from the 2009-2010 New York State Sugary Beverage Excise Tax Campaigns

September 29, 12:30 pm
Kathryn Montgomery, PhD
Professor, School of Communication, American University
Recent Trends in Digital Food Marketing

October 6, 12:30 pm
Kevin W. Concannon
Under Secretary; Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services; USDA
No Nation Healthier than its Children

Unless otherwise noted, seminars are held at the Rudd Center, located at 309 Edwards Street in New Haven, Connecticut. The seminars are free and open to the public. Seating is limited. The full schedule for our Fall Seminar Series is available online and for download as a PDF document.

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive reminders of upcoming seminars and schedule changes.

Rudd Center Spotlight: Kevin W. Concannon

ConcannonKevin W. Concannon, U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, will present No Nation Healthier than its Children on October 6 during the Rudd Center’s Fall 2010 Seminar Series.

Nominated by President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Mr. Concannon oversees fifteen nutrition programs, which feed one in four Americans each year. The Food and Nutrition Service programs ensure that children are served well-balanced school meals; new mothers, infants, and small children receive healthy food; and Americans who are unable to afford food are provided with assistance.

Mr. Concannon previously served in many national public service organizations and has received several awards, including the Lifetime Human Services Award from the American Public Human Services Association.

He received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Social Work degrees from Saint Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia and continued his studies at the University of Southern Maine and the University of Connecticut.

Focus on Childhood Obesity

September is the first annual Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. The Rudd Center encourages parents, teachers, and other caregivers to help improve children's nutrition, physical activity, and body image.

You can :

  • Pack healthy school lunches.
  • Cook and eat meals together.
  • Teach about the difference between a healthy snack and a treat.
  • Reduce sedentary time including watching television, surfing the internet, and playing video games.
  • Offer water and plain, low-fat milk as primary beverages.


Marketing Monstrosity

Prime real estate on grocery store shelves apparently isn’t enough for Pop-Tarts, the sugar-laden toaster pastry that’s traditionally been billed as breakfast on-the-go. Hoping to reach millions of eyeballs from around the world, day or night, Kellogg’s recently opened the larger-than-life Pop-Tarts World, a 50-foot storefront and marketing mecca in the heart of New York City’s Time Square. With a café serving items like Pop-Tarts Sushi, and computers that directly access Pop-Tarts Web sites and social media, this unsavory move certainly takes junk food marketing out of the box.

The Latest Rudd Center Podcasts

Jacob Seidell, PhD
Professor of Nutrition and Health, Free University Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Rudd Center’s extensive library of podcasts is available for download on iTunes U, under the Yale University Health & Medicine — Nutrition & Obesity section, or can be subscribed to through an RSS Feed that automatically updates when new content is released. Podcasts can be listened to on a computer or downloaded to a music player.

Front Burner News

Labeling, Point-of-Purchase Signs Influence Food Choices

Nutritional labeling and point-of-purchase signs significantly influence behaviors regarding food choices and good nutrition, according to two studies in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Read more.

Despite Warnings, Extreme Fatty Foods Still Appeal

With more awareness of nutrition and the dangers of obesity than ever before, extreme fast food meals still appeal to some customers. Read more.

Good Nutrition in High-Poverty Schools

In an effort to teach children about proper nutrition and provide schools with fresh produce, the USDA will award $1 million in grants to schools in high-poverty areas to assist them with starting community gardens. Read more.

Initiative Launched to Increase Low-Income Families’ Consumption of Produce

The USDA awarded $20 million to more than two dozen cities and towns throughout Western Massachusetts to determine if providing subsidies for purchasing produce would encourage food stamp participants to eat healthier. Read more.

Sugary Drinks at Young Age Affect Weight for Years


The Center for Childhood Obesity Research at Penn State University recently conducted a study that demonstrates how girls exposed to sugary beverages at a young age favor sweet drinks over milk and 100% juice throughout their lifetime, increasing the risk of obesity. Read more.

Sesame Street Promotes Healthy Eating Habits

Sesame Street, AmeriChoice-UnitedHealthcare, and Merck Company Foundation have teamed up to promote healthy eating habits to families on a limited budget through a
new bilingual multimedia program called, “Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget.” Read more.


How Obesity and Hunger Exist Side-by-Side

In the increasingly global food system, why do obesity and hunger co-exist? Read more.

Making Healthy Choices the Default

Public health is not only an expression of democracy. It is also a strategy that promotes good health to all members of society, not just those who can afford it or are educated enough to make healthy choices. Read more.

Policy Is the Answer to a Healthier Environment

People face an environment littered with inexpensive fast food, ads that promote high-calorie foods, and workplaces that are unhealthy and stressful. In order to change the littered environment, public and private policy changes are needed. Read more.


The Power of Persuasion in Food Marketing

With the vast majority of ads seen on television promoting unhealthy food products, food marketing holds the power to change the way people, especially children, make food choices. Read more.

Combat Junk Food TV Ads to Combat Obesity

Two-thirds of all televised food ads geared toward children are for junk food and shown when children are most likely to be watching. Researchers are urging governments to
take action and limit junk food advertising. Read more.

Food Marketing Gets Innovative


Food marketers are getting sneakier with their techniques and using innovative methods including social media, co-opting health professionals and organizations, and lobbying to garner the interest of consumers. Read more.