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

August 2012

Food and Addiction Book Released

Food_and_Addiction_HandbookA new book has been published to address the current evidence on food and addiction. “Food and Addiction: A Comprehensive Handbook” was co-edited by Kelly Brownell, PhD, Rudd Center Director, and Mark Gold, MD, Chair of Psychiatry at the University of Florida.

The book assembles contributions from leading researchers in addiction, neuroscience, nutrition, obesity prevention, and public policy into a map of how food affects the brain, whether the term addiction can be applied in the context of current eating patterns and available food, and how science, public policy, and the behavior of the food industry might be affected by the emerging science on this topic.

The field of food and addiction is growing rapidly and the work is exciting, vibrant, on the cutting edge of both science and public policy, and will have major implications as the world confronts nutrition problems, according to the co-editors.

Nike Inspires “Greatness” for People of All Sizes

Nike’s new campaign “Find Your Greatness” encourages all people to lead active lives, regardless of size. In a series of videos, including a video about a 12-year-old obese boy named Nathan, Nike demonstrates its commitment to demystify myths about overweight and obese people.

“In a society where obese individuals face pervasive stigmatization, it is important to debunk weight-based stereotypes that so often lead to prejudice,” said Rebecca Puhl, PhD, Director of Research and Weight Stigma Initiatives at the Rudd Center. “Nike does this successfully by communicating the message that we all have the potential for greatness, no matter what body size we have. More messages like this are badly needed in our culture, and hopefully others will follow the example of Nike to address weight stigmatization head on."

New Cereal FACTS Video Shows Cereal Companies' Reach to Children


The Rudd Center's Cereal FACTS 2012 report found that cereal companies have improved the nutritional quality of most cereals marketed directly to children, but increased advertising to children for many of their least nutritious products. In Reach, a new video from the Rudd Center, shows how cereal companies have turned the cereal aisle into prime advertising space to reach children.

Kelly Brownell Receives APA Outstanding Lifetime Contribution Award

Kelly Brownell, PhD, Rudd Center Director, has received the 2012 American Psychological Association Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contributions to Psychology. Dr. Brownell was honored during the APA's 2012 Annual Convention for devoting his career to fighting obesity. He was also given the 2012 APA Award for Distinguished Scientific Applications to Psychology.

Fall Seminar Series

The Rudd Center has hosted over 100 distinguished experts in academics, law, advocacy, and public policy to discuss their work and its implications for the study of obesity, food policy, and weight bias. The Fall 2012 Seminar Series will include Curt Ellis, Co-Founder and Executive Director of FoodCorps and co-creator of the film King Corn.

Upcoming Seminar Speakers

Tuesday, September 11, 12:30 pm
Yofi Tirosh, SJD
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University
The Right to Be Fat

Wednesday, September 12, 12:30 pm
Jason Riis, PhD
Assistant Professor, Business Administration, Harvard Business School
Field Studies of Consumer Behavior in Food Retail Settings

Wednesday, October 3, 12:30 pm
Curt Ellis
Co-Founder and Executive Director, FoodCorps
Growing Forward: A New Vision for Food and Farming in America
*Location – Yale Peabody Museum, 170 Whitney Avenue, 3rd Floor Auditorium*

Wednesday, October 10, 12:30 pm
James Krieger, MD, MPH
Chief, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention Section, Public Health – Seattle and King County; Clinical Professor, Medicine and Health Services, University of Washington
Using Policy and Systems Changes to Create Healthy Environments at the Local Level

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 Fall Seminar Series is available online and for download.

Rudd Center Spotlight: Yofi Tirosh, SJD

TiroshYofi Tirosh, SJD, Assistant Professor at the Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law, will present The Right to Be Fat on Tuesday, September 11 during the Rudd Center’s Fall Seminar Series.

At Tel Aviv University, Tirosh teaches classes in employment and labor law, jurisprudence, gender and law, food law, and antidiscrimination law. She is currently a visiting professor at Georgetown University Law Center, and has previously served as a research fellow at New York University Law School.

Her research focuses on the diverse ways in which the body is regulated by law, in contexts such as employers’ appearance requirements, weight-based discrimination, and the legal treatment of physical differences between genders.

Her work has appeared in journals such as the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, and Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics.

Tirosh is an active member in Israeli human rights organizations and has clerked for Israel’s Supreme Court.

Just Published by the Rudd Center

School Bus Advertising Unhealthy for Children

Several states have considered allowing advertisements on school buses in an effort to raise revenue for distressed public school districts. Unhindered advertisements on buses may result in children being exposed to advertising that undermines public health or encourages unhealthy behaviors, according to a paper recently published in the American Journal of Public Health.

School districts should be aware of First Amendment case law related to government property so they can enact policies to prohibit advertising that is inappropriate for a school setting.

“By enacting and enforcing such policies, school officials can maintain control over the speech permitted on school property, including buses, to protect children while in their care,” said author Jennifer L. Pomeranz, JD, MPH, Director of Legal Initiatives at the Rudd Center.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood reports that Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Tennessee, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Utah, Nevada, and New Mexico currently allow advertising on the exterior of school buses. Eight states - New York, Rhode Island, California, Washington, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, and Indiana - considered legislation this session that failed to pass.

Consumer Reaction to Industry’s Front-of-Package Nutrition Labeling System

U.S. adults are better able to understand the U.K.’s “Multiple Traffic Light” front-of-package nutrition labeling system than the U.S. food and beverage industry’s “Facts Up Front” system, according to a study by the Rudd Center that appears in the advance online publication of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Learn more in this video.

When people were asked to compare two products and decide which is lower or higher in a certain nutrient such as sodium or sugar, all of the front-of-package labels helped consumers make accurate judgments. In this case both the Traffic Light, which included additional “nutrients to encourage” (such as fiber or Vitamin A), and Facts Up Front symbols performed equally well. However, when consumers were asked to make judgments about individual products (e.g. determine whether a product had low, medium, or high amounts of a nutrient), the Traffic Light with additional nutrients to encourage helped consumers the most. Facts Up Front labels were more likely to lead consumers to underestimate amounts of saturated fats and sugars and overestimate amounts of protein and fibers.

“The Traffic Light labeling system is simple – red means stop and green means go. Our study suggests this system may be a better bet for public health than the Facts Up Front label,” said lead author Christina Roberto, PhD, Rudd Center researcher.

The study also showed that consumers found the Traffic Light label to be the most user-friendly, while the Facts Up Front label with additional nutrients to encourage was rated as more confusing, having too much information, and taking too much time to understand. As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration creates recommendations for a uniform front-of-package labeling system, Facts Up Front could be improved by using a color-coded traffic light scheme, instead of listing grams/milligrams and percentage daily value information.

Preemption in Public Health Policy

Preemption, the act of Congress or state legislatures limiting the authority of lower jurisdictions, can eliminate the benefits of state and local policy initiatives, which play a fundamental role in innovation and progress. Preemption can also have a negative impact on enforcement, civic engagement, and grassroots movement building.

In a paper recently published in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, the authors, including the Rudd Center’s Jennifer L. Pomeranz, JD, MPH, Director of Legal Initiatives, assessed the impact of federal and state preemption in public health and provided a framework tool for decision makers.

Worst Marketing Practice

7-Eleven Markets Slurpees to Children through Police Officers

7-Eleven’s signature summer program, “Operation Chill,” provides 1 million coupons for free Slurpees to law enforcement agencies across the country. Children and teens are given the coupons when police officers see them doing good deeds or promoting safety in their communities.

The first ingredient in every Slurpee is high-fructose corn syrup. An 8-ounce serving contains 17 grams of sugar, which is more added sugar than a 4- to 8-year-old child should have in an entire day. Read more.

Vote for Big Food Exhibit in Childhood Obesity Challenge

The Yale Peabody Museum is hosting the exhibit Big Food: Health, Culture and the Evolution of Eating through December 2. The exhibit is part of an online challenge to find innovative solutions to fight childhood obesity. Vote for Big Food through September 30. The challenge is sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The Latest Rudd Center Podcasts

Marlene B. Schwartz, PhD
Deputy Director, Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity

The Rudd Center’s extensive library of podcasts is available for download on iTunes U and through an RSS feed.

Front Burner News

Obesity Rates by State

More than a third of American adults are obese but rates vary by state, according to a survey by the CDC. Colorado has the lowest rate (20 percent) and Mississippi has the highest (35 percent). Read more.

Added Sugar Label

The Food and Drug Administration plans to conduct a study on how consumers would react if nutrition labels stated how much added sugar a food item contains. Read more.

Benefit of Color-Coded Food Labels

Color coding food labels could help consumers make healthier choices, according to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Read more.

School Food Regulations Facing Delays

With elections nearing, the Obama administration has put a growing list of potential regulations on hold, including some that would impact foods sold at schools. Read more.

New York City Trans Fat Ban has Cut Consumption

Since New York City banned trans fats in restaurant food in 2008, diners have consumed 2.4 fewer grams of trans fats per lunch, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Read more.

Obese Children Removed from Parents’ Care

The Department of Health Services in Victoria, British Columbia are now using concerns about extreme obesity as justification for removing children from their parents’ care. Read more.


Representative Rosa DeLauro Supports a Soda Tax

Representative Rosa DeLauro from Connecticut asked Congress to consider imposing a federal tax on soda. Read more.

El Monte Considers Soda Tax

El Monte, California has become the second city in the state to propose a soda tax, following the lead of Richmond. Read more.

Sports Drinks Unnecessary

Sports drinks have little benefit for casual athletes who work out less than two hours a day due to the high amount of sugar they contain, according to a study in BMJ. Read more.

Soda Tax in Richmond Could Create National Impact

If the proposed penny-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks passes in Richmond, California, it could tilt the playing field against the soda industry and spotlight the drink's probable role in obesity. Read more.

Public Hearing on New York’s Oversized Soda Ban

During the recent public hearing on New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed ban on large sugary drinks, medical professionals and health experts compared soda companies to Big Tobacco. Read more.

Florida Schools Ban Energy Drinks

Manatee County Schools is the first school district in Florida to ban energy drinks like Red Bull and Full Throttle. Read more.

Nestlé Launches Reduced-Sugar Juices

Nestlé recently launched a new beverage called Juicy Juice Fruitfuls that contains 35 percent less sugar than regular juice, aiming to tackle parental concerns regarding sugar consumption among children. Read more.

Surgeon General Report on Soda Requested

Health and consumer advocates and several municipal public health departments have asked the Surgeon General for a comprehensive report that examines the effects of soda consumption on health and the economy. Read more.

Fruit versus Gatorade for Athletes

Bananas are as effective as Gatorade in providing nutritional support and hydration to athletes during prolonged and intensive exercise, according to a study in the journal PLoS ONE. Read more.


Restricting Child-Directed Advertising


Child-directed advertising is fueling the obesity epidemic. When the consequences of alcohol and tobacco consumption, particularly to young people, were recognized, ads for these products were restricted. We need to pay similar attention to the long-range effects of food advertising on obesity. Read more.

Overlaps between Food and Drug Addiction

Scientists use the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) to diagnose substance dependence. Recently scientists have been using the DSM-IV as a tool to examine the overlaps that might exist between substance dependence and food addiction. Read more.

Limit Advertising to Lower Childhood Obesity

Banning junk food advertising to children could produce a striking effect on childhood health and should be considered in future governmental policy in North America and abroad. Read more.

Taking Milk off the School Lunch Menu

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has petitioned the U.S. government to remove milk as a required food group from the National School Lunch Program because they claim it does not adequately protect children’s bones. Read more.


Influence of Toys in Kids’ Meals

Children are far more likely to choose a healthier fast-food meal when toys are offered only with those menu items rather than the less healthy menu items, according to a study in the Canadian Journal of Public Health. Read more.

McDonald’s Makes Nutritional Changes for Olympics

As part of their sponsorship with the Olympics, McDonald's made several high-profile nutritional changes to its menu. Read more.

Jamie Oliver against Athletes Promoting Junk Food

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has joined health professionals and teachers in condemning the use of athlete role models to promote junk food. Read more.