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

October 2008

Rudd Center Receives Grant to Study Access to Affordable Healthy Foods for Low-Income Families in Connecticut


Rudd Center researchers will examine the impact of revised nutrition guidelines on the quality, cost and availability of food accessible through the government’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). With a USDA grant, researchers will monitor changes in the food environment in five Connecticut communities. The WIC program seeks to reduce the nutritional risk of low-income pregnant and postpartum women and children up to age five by providing vouchers or checks for food.

Last December, the USDA revised its WIC guidelines to improve nutrition among participants. By October 1, 2009, food bought with WIC dollars must adhere to 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Academy of Pediatrics’ infant feeding practice guidelines. The revisions include increasing fruits, vegetables, soy-based products and whole grains; providing incentives for women to breastfeed; and reducing benefit allowances for foods like milk, cheese, eggs and juice.

Rudd Center researchers involved in the study include Marlene Schwartz, deputy director; Tania Andreyeva, postdoctoral research associate; and Ann Bellenger, research associate. Over a two-year period, they will document the impact of WIC revisions by surveying food vendor attitudes about healthy food and their participation in the government nutrition program. The researchers also will assess the variety, quality, availability and cost of healthy food purchased with WIC vouchers. They will evaluate those results in the context of market competition, other food outlets, socio-demographic characteristics and income. The number, type and location of WIC-approved vendors in Connecticut will be monitored as well. Stay tuned for updates on this study.

Nutrition Standards Created for New York City Food


New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced on September 19 new nutrition standards for all food provided by city agencies, according to the Office of the Mayor. The new executive order will cover schools, child care centers, after-school programs, parks, public hospitals, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and senior centers. The policy makes New York City the first major U.S. city to enact such standards.

The standards will encourage suppliers of food for city agencies to improve the nutritional content. They are part of efforts by the city’s Food Policy Task Force to reduce obesity and blood pressure.

“This collaboration between the City Council and the administration will impact the lives of countless New Yorkers who eat in our schools, our senior centers, soup kitchens, and beyond and is a great step forward in fighting the obesity epidemic that is impacting our children and all our residents,” said Bloomberg.

The standards, which will take effect within six months, include:

  • Each meal must provide an appropriate range of calories, salt and fiber.
  • Water must be available at all meals.
  • Juice must be 100% fruit juice and recommended servings should not exceed 8 ounces.
  • Lunches and dinners must include at least two servings of vegetables.
  • Agencies that serve three meals daily must provide at least five servings of fruits and vegetables.
  • Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables should be used in place of canned products, whenever appropriate.
  • Deep fryers will be eliminated over time.
  • All food purchased and served must have 0 grams trans fat.

"Once again, New York City is a national leader in creating strong food and nutrition related policies. The nutrition standards created for New York City agencies are truly impressive and represent a substantial step beyond any of the current federal guidelines for reimbursable meals and snacks in schools or child care settings,” said Marlene Schwartz, Rudd Center deputy director.

Upcoming Seminar Speakers:

October 20, 12:30 pm: Alberto Cormillot, MD
Founder, Cormillot Health Network; Former National Congressman; Former Minister of Acción Social of the Province of Buenos Aires; Former Secretary of Quality of Life of the city of Buenos Aires
Obesity, Nutrition, and Health Education Network

October 22, 12:30 pm: Derek Yach, MBChB, MPH, DSC
Director of Global Health Policy, PepsiCo
Towards a 21st Century Agenda for Nutrition

October 29, 12:30 pm: Elizabeth Goodman, MD
Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health & Family Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine; Director, Child and Adolescent Obesity Program, Tufts Floating Hospital for Children and New England Medical Center
Obesity and the Biology of Social Justice

November 5, 12:30 pm: James Gustave Speth, JD
Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. Dean, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies; Sara Shallenberger Brown Professor, Practice of Environmental Policy, Yale University
The Coming Transformation: America, Capitalism and the Environment

Our seminars are held at the Rudd Center, located at 309 Edwards Street in New Haven, Connecticut. They are free and open to the public. The full schedule for our Fall Seminar Series is available online.

To receive a weekly email from the Rudd Center detailing upcoming seminars and schedule changes, please click here.

Rudd Center Director, Kelly Brownell, Joins Institute of Medicine Committee on Childhood Obesity

Kelly Brownell, Rudd Center director, is a member of the Institute of Medicine Standing Committee on Childhood Obesity Prevention. Brownell, a member of the IOM, joins a group of distinguished experts addressing critical issues in prevention.

The committee is chaired by Jeffrey P. Koplan, MD, MPH, vice president for global health and the director of the Global Health Institute at Emory University and former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Group members include national leaders in public health, public policy, medicine, nutrition, physical activity, pediatrics, obesity prevention, social and behavioral sciences, biostatistics and epidemiology. The academic, government and industry experience of the committee’s members highlight its interdisciplinary approach.

The goal of the committee, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is to initiate state and national policy discussions and research studies about childhood obesity prevention. The Rudd Center will provide updates on the committee’s progress.

Spotlight on Rudd Center Affiliated Faculty: Carlos M. Grilo, PhD

Carlos M. Grilo, PhD, is a professor of psychiatry and psychology at Yale University and the director of the Eating Disorders and Obesity Research Program at the Yale University School of Medicine. His primary clinical research interests include eating and weight disorders, and his secondary interests include personality disorders and psychopathology. He is a regular speaker in the Rudd Center's Seminar Series.

Since 1996, Dr. Grilo’s research and training program has been funded with external grants from the National Institutes of Health and research foundations such as the American Heart Association and the Donaghue Foundation. The program focuses primarily on conducting controlled clinical trials for obesity and disordered eating and testing different cognitive-behavioral, behavioral, nutritional and medication interventions. The program now provides training for four full-time postdoctoral associates and for several part-time advanced psychology trainees.

Dr. Grilo earned his ScB in psychology at Brown University and his MS and PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. He completed his internship and a fellowship at the Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital. Dr. Grilo came to Yale University in 1991 as a postdoctoral associate with professors Kelly Brownell and Judith Rodin and served as associate clinical director of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders 1991-1993. Dr. Grilo joined the faculty as assistant professor of psychiatry in 1993 and served as director of psychology of the Yale Psychiatric Institute (YPI) 1993-2000. In 2000, after the closing of YPI, Dr. Grilo turned his attention to full-time clinical research.

Dr. Grilo currently serves on the editorial boards of seven leading professional journals, including Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Behaviour Therapy and Research, Obesity, Obesity Surgery, and International Journal of Eating Disorders. Dr. Grilo has published more than 220 peer-reviewed journal articles, including recent papers in American Psychologist, American Journal of Psychiatry, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, and Journal of Abnormal Psychology. His 2006 book, Eating and Weight Disorders, provides a comprehensive overview of eating disorders and obesity, including diagnosis and treatment. The book is a useful tool for those in the fields of clinical psychology, health psychology and psychiatry.

The Latest Rudd Center Podcasts

Mark V. Roehling, PhD, JD
Associate Professor of Human Resource Management, School of Labor and Industrial Relations, Michigan State University
Promoting Fair and Effective Employment Practices or Contributing to Employee Poor Health? An Interdisciplinary Assessment of Proposed Increased Legal Protection for Overweight Employees

Thomas A. Dziki, LEED® AP
Vice President of Sustainable Development, United Natural Foods, Inc.
Beginning the Sustainable Journey

Mark S. Gold, MD

Donald Dizney Eminent Scholar, Distinguished Professor and Chair of Psychiatry, University of Florida
Could Food Addiction Explain Rising Obesity Rates?

Walter C. Willett, MD, MPH, DrPH
Chair, Department of Nutrition; Fredrick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health
Eliminating Trans Fat from the Food Supply: The Tortuous Road from Science to Policy

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 a 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.

Front Burner News

Researchers Discover Gene Controlling Appetite and Fertility

Researchers at Salk Institute in California have found a gene linked to both appetite and fertility. Scientists posit that the gene is responsible for switching off food intake and allowing pregnancy, and might have offered the evolutionary advantage of preventing women from getting pregnant in times of food scarcity. Read the full article.


Fast Food Hits Mediterranean and a Diet Succumbs

Traditionally, the healthy Mediterranean diet has consisted mainly of fresh produce, fish, grains and olive oil. In recent years, the influx of the Western diet in Greece, including increased processed foods and fast food restaurants, has led to higher rates of serious conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, according to a Grecian physician. Read the full article.

Harvard Removes Calorie Info, Cites Eating Disorders

Harvard University Dining Services has removed index cards displaying calorie counts from all dining halls after students and parents expressed concern that providing nutrition information could contribute to eating disorders. The Dining Services department will make nutrition information accessible through kiosks in the dining halls instead. For the full article, click here.

Children With Obese Friends and Family More Likely to Misperceive Weight

Children with overweight and obese schoolmates and relatives were found to more frequently underestimate their weight than their normal weight peers, according to Canadian researchers. Children must accurately recognize their weight in order to implement healthy eating and activity behaviors. Click here for the full article.


Supermarkets 'Push Fatty Foods'

A study by the National Consumer Council in the United Kingdom has found that nearly half of all supermarket promotions, such as two-for-one deals and discounts, are for unhealthy foods, while only 12% of promotions were for fruit and vegetables. Despite severe warnings from health officials about “the ticking time-bomb of obesity,” the extent of supermarket promotions of unhealthy foods has nearly doubled since 2006. Click here for the full article.

Mini-Treadmills: Anti-Obesity Tool or End of Playtime?

To combat the increasing rates of overweight and obese children, toy companies are manufacturing miniature exercise equipment marketed as an alternative to other games and play activities. While some parents see this trend as positive, psychiatrists and trainers have expressed concern that the equipment is a poor substitute for actual play time. Click here for the full article.

Liver Disease Plagues Obese Adolescents

Many recent medical studies have documented a rise in liver disease among overweight and obese teenagers. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a type of severe liver damage caused by too much body fat, is occurring in a growing number of American children over age 5 and leading to cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer for obese teenagers. Many may need liver transplants by their 30s or 40s. For the full article, click here.

Obesity Raises Miscarriage Risk

In the first study to examine the connection between repeated miscarriage and obesity, it was found that a woman is 73% more likely to have a second miscarriage if she is obese. Reaching a healthy weight before becoming pregnant may reduce the likelihood of miscarriage. Click here for the full article.

Panel Hears Thoughts on Food Marketing to Kids

A hearing was held about the influence of food marketing on childhood obesity. Testimonies were given from representatives of food companies, government entities and advocacy groups about the interventions necessary to reverse the epidemic. For the full article, click here.

Shrinking Packages, Pricier Foods Fluster Parents

While food prices are rising, parents are choosing homemade, not prepackaged snacks and smaller portions for their children. This shift has the potential to teach children about nutrition and budgeting at an early age and even affect obesity rates. Click here for the full article.

Obesity Surgery May Be Cost-Effective

A new study published in the American Journal of Managed Care shows that the cost of gastric bypass surgery can be offset within two to four years by savings in medical costs, a finding that may spur health-insurance companies to cover weight-loss surgeries. Some have questioned the validity of the study’s findings because the research was paid for by the Johnson & Johnson company. Read the full article.

Heavy Children May Have More Headaches

Researchers at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center found that the incidence of headaches in children increased with BMI. The frequency of headaches was reduced as children lost weight. Read the full article.