Rudd Center Featured in HBO Series on Obesity Crisis
Rudd Center researchers will be featured in a multi-part series on HBO that addresses the national obesity epidemic. Kelly Brownell, PhD, Director; Marlene Schwartz, PhD, Deputy Director; Rebecca Puhl, PhD, Director of Research and Weight Stigma Initiatives; and Jennifer Harris, PhD, Director of Marketing Initiatives, will join other notable experts in obesity research and prevention to discuss one of the nation’s most pressing health issues and offer practical but far-reaching solutions.
The series, The Weight of the Nation, premiering on Monday, May 14 and Tuesday, May 15, spotlights the facts and myths of this urgent public health issue, showing how obesity affects the health of the nation and cripples the health care system.
“The HBO series captures the extent and consequences of obesity, possible solutions, and the touching human stories of the people affected,” Brownell said. “The films are powerful and much needed as the nation searches for ways to address this key issue.”
The series will be accompanied by a nationwide community-based outreach initiative.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of HBO
Institute of Medicine Report Aims to Accelerate Progress in Obesity Prevention
The Institute of Medicine recently released a report that outlines strategies for addressing the obesity epidemic. The report, Accelerating Progress on Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation, was released at the Weight of the Nation Conference hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and highlights five key goals for reversing the epidemic:
- Make physical activity an integral and routine part of life.
- Create food and beverage environments that ensure healthy food and beverage options are the routine, easy choice.
- Transform messages about physical activity and nutrition.
- Expand the role of health care providers, insurers and employers in obesity prevention.
- Ensure that schools are a national focal point for obesity prevention.
The report states that in order to achieve these goals, action must be taken by leaders in all sectors of society, including policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels; businesses; schools; doctors; and parents. In addition, the report suggests bold policy moves, including an excise taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages, with the revenues being dedicated to obesity prevention programs.
“This committee worked long and hard to help define priorities for the nation's efforts to prevent obesity,” according to Kelly Brownell, PhD, Rudd Center Director. “They have reinforced the central importance of a number of efforts underway now by organizations around the country.”
Just Published by the Rudd Center
Food Marketing to Youth: Current Threats and Opportunities
Many stakeholders and strategies are needed to reduce the harm caused by child-directed food marketing, according to an editorial recently published by Rudd Center researchers in the Journal Childhood Obesity.
The editorial examines local, state, and federal actions that should be taken by government, schools, researchers, parents, the food and beverage industry, and media companies to prevent the harmful consequences of food marketing to children.
The editorial was coauthored by the Rudd Center's Marlene Schwartz, PhD, Deputy Director; and Amy Ustjanauskas, BA, Research Assistant.
Responding to the Supreme Court's Threat to Overhaul the Commercial Speech Doctrine
Commercial speech (e.g., marketing and advertising) and core speech (e.g., political and religious speech) are fundamentally different, according to Jennifer L. Pomeranz, JD, MPH, Rudd Center Director of Legal Initiatives, in an article recently published in Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review. Under the commercial speech doctrine, commercial speech receives less protection than core speech. This is based on the recognition that the two forms of speech require their own unique First Amendment protection and the government’s ability and need to compel and restrict them differs substantially. However, in a 2011 case, the Supreme Court conflated the two constitutional analyses, threatening to ovehaul the commercial speech doctrine.
The Court must uphold the distinction between commercial and core speech and reject all future opportunities to overhaul the commercial speech doctrine, according to Pomeranz.
“The current understanding of the First Amendment allows the government to effectively address misleading and deceptive commercial speech and protect consumers from overreaching by commercial actors,” said Pomeranz. “If the Court continues to chip away at the commercial speech doctrine, food marketers will have even more leeway to market unhealthy products to children and the government’s ability to deal with misleading claims may be thwarted.”
PepsiCo Imposes an Employee Sin Tax
PepsiCo charges its employees $50 a month if they smoke or have obesity-related medical problems such as diabetes, hypertension, and high blood pressure as part of a wellness program initiated several years ago. Workers can avoid paying the charge if they participate in classes to lose weight or quit smoking.
"Pepsi's policy is highly discriminatory and unfairly singles out people affected by obesity. This is also an unfortunate example of a company making products that can be harmful to health and then blaming the people who are suffering the harm. A parallel would be Philip Morris charging fees to their employees who smoke cigarettes,” said Rebecca Puhl, PhD, Rudd Center Director of Research and Weight Stigma Initiatives.
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Upcoming Seminar Speakers
May 11, 12:30 pm
May 31, 1:30 pm
Unless otherwise noted, seminars are held at the Rudd Center. The seminars are free and open to the public. Seating is limited. The full schedule for the Spring Seminar Series is available online and for download.
Rudd Center Spotlight: Peter Kaminsky
Peter Kaminsky, journalist, author, and television producer, will present Culinary Intelligence: The Art of Eating Healthy (and Really Well) on May 11 during the Rudd Center’s Spring Seminar Series.
Kaminsky wrote Underground Gourmet for New York magazine for four years, and his Outdoors column appeared in The New York Times for twenty years. He is a longtime contributor to Food & Wine and the former managing editor of National Lampoon.
His books include Pig Perfect: Encounters with Remarkable Swine, The Moon Pulled Up an Acre of Bass, The Elements of Taste (with Gray Kunz), Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way (with Francis Mallmann), Letters to a Young Chef (with Daniel Boulud), Celebrate! (with Sheila Lukins), and John Madden’s Ultimate Tailgating.
He is a creator and executive producer of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, on PBS.
In his most recent book,Culinary Intelligence, Kaminsky shows readers how to eat in a healthy way without sacrificing the fun and pleasure in food. His advice includes: think before eating, choose good ingredients, understand how flavor works, and make the effort to cook.
Worst Marketing Practice
Domino's Smart Slice Program Delivers to Schools
Poll Shows Voters Want Healthy Snacks in School
Eighty percent of U.S. voters favor national school nutrition standards that would make snack foods and beverages in schools healthier, according to a poll commissioned by the Kids’ Safe & Healthful Foods Project, a joint project of The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The poll shows that voters specifically favor standards that would limit calories, fat, and sodium in snack foods and beverages sold in school vending machines, school stores, and cafeteria à la carte lines.
The findings come as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prepares to release updated national school nutrition standards that apply to snacks and beverages. The current school snack standards were set 30 years ago and do not reflect current knowledge about nutrition. After proposed standards are published, the USDA will accept public comments about them for 90 days. The final standards are expected to take effect in fall 2013.
The Latest Rudd Center Podcasts
Steven L. Gortmaker, PhD
Professor of the Practice of Health Sociology; Department of Society, Human Development and Health; Harvard School of Public Health
Senior Scholar, Wellesley Centers for Women