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

March 2009

Rudd Center Releases Soft Drink Tax Policy Report


The Rudd Center has just released a policy report on soft drink taxes. It provides a summary of research which addresses concerns of policy makers and citizens, policy recommendations and arguments used by proponents and opponents of soft drink taxes.

In addition, Kelly Brownell, PhD, Rudd Center Director, wrote an opinion piece for the New York Daily News urging Governor Paterson of New York to remain firm in his commitment to the tax, both because of the expected effect on sugared beverage consumption and the potential to generate revenue for needed health programs. Click here to read a review article on soft drink intake and health outcomes published by Rudd Center faculty in 2007.

Videos Exposing Weight Bias Released

*A must-see and must-share for teachers and health care providers*
The stigmatization of obese adults by employers, educators, health care providers, family members, romantic partners, and the media is rampant. To help increase public awareness about this issue, the Rudd Center has released two new videos on weight bias. The videos are hosted by Emme, supermodel and women's advocate. They feature Rudd Center experts, including Rebecca Puhl, PhD, Director of Research & Weight Stigma Initiatives. Using expert commentary and dramatic representation, the videos address the obstacles obese individuals encounter at home, in schools, and within health care settings. The videos can be viewed on the Rudd Center website or Yale’s YouTube website. DVD copies will be available soon.

U.K. Embarks on Campaign to Reduce Saturated Fat

One-third of premature deaths in the United Kingdom are due to cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat can lead to increased cholesterol levels, increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, heart attack, angina, and stroke.

The U.K.’s Food Standards Agency has launched a public health campaign aimed at reducing the consumption of saturated fat. The $20 million campaign includes a 40-second television ad and a series of print ads about the adverse health effects of saturated fat. The ads also list foods high in saturated fat and suggest healthier alternatives. The U.K. is pressing companies to offer products with reduced saturated fat and to improve package labeling.

“The government in the U.K. has been very active on the nutrition front and has established very good relationships with leading scholars and NGOs. Perhaps similarly ambitious programs could take place in the U.S.,” according to Kelly Brownell, PhD, Rudd Center Director.

Upcoming Seminar Speakers:

March 25, 12:30 pm: Steven C. Hayes, PhD
Foundation Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Nevada
First You Win, Then You Play: Acceptance, Mindfulness, and Values in Food, Body Image, and Health

April 1, 12:30 pm: David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Pediatric, Harvard Medical School; Director, Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) Program
An Integrative, Family-based Approach to Childhood Obesity

April 8, 2:00 pm: Jason M. Fletcher, PhD
Assistant Professor, Division of Health Policy and Administration, School of Public Health, Yale University
Can State Level Policies Influence Children's Weight? Evidence Using Soft Drink Taxes and Vending Machine Bans

April 15: Douglas Rae, PhD

Our 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.

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

Spotlight on Rudd Center Affiliated Faculty: James Gustave Speth, JD

SpethJames Gustave Speth’s research focuses on global environmental change and governance. In his current work, he is examining whether the dynamics of modern capitalism run counter to environmental goals. If they do, what must change and how?

Speth has collaborated with Kelly Brownell, PhD, Rudd Center Director, to develop new ways of looking at the interactions between food and the environment and to identify common policy approaches.

Speth is the Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. Dean of the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Sara Shallenberger Brown Professor in the Practice of Environmental Policy at Yale University. He currently teaches two courses: International Environmental Law and Policy; and Modern Capitalism and the Environment: Pathways to Sustainability.

Speth’s prior positions include Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and Chair of the U.N. Development Group; founder and President of the World Resources Institute; Professor of law at Georgetown University; Chairman of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality; and senior attorney and cofounder of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Speth earned his MLitt from Oxford University and his JD from Yale University. Working to combat environmental degradation, he has held leadership roles on the President’s Task Force on Global Resources and Environment; the Western Hemisphere Dialogue on Environment and Development; and the National Commission on the Environment. He has received the National Wildlife Federation’s Resources Defense Award; the Natural Resources Council of America’s Barbara Swain Award of Honor; a Special Recognition Award from the Society for International Development; the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Environmental Law Institute; and the Blue Planet Prize. His publications include the books: The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability; Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment; and Worlds Apart: Globalization and the Environment. His articles have appeared in Foreign Policy; Foreign Affairs; Environmental Science and Technology; and the Columbia Journal World of Business.

Click here to read more about Speth’s work.

The Latest Rudd Center Podcasts

Marcia L. Pelchat, PhD
Associate Member, Monell Chemical Senses Center

David Wallinga, MD, MPA
Wm T Grant Foundation Fellow, University of Minnesota; Director, Food and Health Program Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Marian Tanofsky-Kraff, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; Researcher, Unit on Growth and Obesity, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health
Preventing Excessive Weight Gain in Adolescent Girls at High-Risk for Adult Obesity

Susan Peters, APRN, MPH; Sonia Pereira, PhD
Peters: Director of the Physical Activity & Wellness Project for New Haven Public Schools, Supervisor/Clinician in School Based Health Center: Yale-New Haven Hospital; Pereira: Term Assistant Professor, Barnard College, Columbia University
Is PAW Working? Results from an Evaluation of the New Haven Public Schools Health/Wellness Initiative: Physical Activity & Wellness (PAW)

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.

Library of Podcasts (Partial List)

Lori Dorfman, DrPH
Director of Berkeley Media Studies Group, a project of the Public Health Institute
News Frames of Health Issues

Eric A. Finkelstein, MHA, PhD, MA
Health Economist and the Director of the Public Health Economics Program at the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International
The Fattening of America: How the Economy Makes Us Fat, If It Matters, and What to Do About It

Michael S. Kaufman, JD
Chairman of the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors and Co-President of Enovo Restaurant Ventures LLC
America’s Restaurants: Serving Our Nation

Tim Lobstein, PhD
Director of the Childhood Obesity Programme at the International Obesity TaskForce (IOTF)
Obesonomics: Describing the Obesogenic Economy

Brian Wansink, PhD
Executive Director, USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion; John S. Dyson Endowed Chair, Applied Economics and Management Department, Cornell University; Director, Cornell Food and Brand Lab
Turning Mindless Eating into Healthy Eating

Front Burner News

Proximity to Fast Food Restaurants Increases Stroke Risk

A study by researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health found a 13 percent increase in risk for stroke among people living in neighborhoods with an above-average-number of fast food establishments. It is not known whether the link is causal. Click here for the full article.

Junk Food Taxes Make Gains

Taxes on junk food, once thought extreme, are gaining popularity because of increasing obesity rates and related costs to employers. Successful tobacco taxes are cited as evidence of behavior change from additional product costs. Click here for the full article.

Want a Healthier State? Save Gov. Paterson's Tax on Sugar Soda

Writing in the New York Daily News, Rudd Center Director Kelly Brownell recommends rescuing New York Gov. David Paterson's tax on soda and other sugary drinks. According to Brownell, the tax may be an important strategy to fight obesity in New York and the United States. Read the full article.


Television Viewing Can Affect Long-Term Diet

A recent article in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that adolescents who spent five or more hours a day viewing TV or videos had an increased risk of poorer diet five years later. Investigators recommend further research to identify variables that account for the association. For the full article, click here.

Calorie Posting in New York City to Continue

A federal appellate court upheld the 2007 ruling that most major chain restaurants in New York City must post calorie information on their menu. The regulation was challenged by the New York State Restaurant Association. Rudd Center Director of Legal Initiatives Jennifer Pomeranz was active in working with New York City officials during this legal process. Click here for the full article.

New York City Residents Respond to Calorie Posting

The effects of calorie posting regulations in New York City were studied by food industry consultant Technomic. Eighty-two percent of participants reported a change in their eating behavior based on the regulations, while one-third said they no longer go to certain restaurants. Read the full article.

Menu Labeling Law Passed in Oregon

In Multnomah County, Oregon, restaurants whose parent companies have 15 or more locations nationwide will be required to post calorie counts on menus, menu boards, drive-through boards, and food tags at buffets and self-service stations. Restaurants will need to comply with the new law by the end of 2009. For the full article, click here.

Significant Calorie Increase in ‘Joy of Cooking’ Over the Years

In most of the 18 recipes evaluated in the cookbook, Joy of Cooking, calories per serving increased between 1936 and 2006, according to an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The researchers cited substitutions such as meat over vegetables and additions such as butter or sugar as contributors to the calorie increase. Read the full article.

Group Advocates for Trans Fat Ban

The nutrition advocacy group the Center for Science in the Public Interest is urging Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell to phase out trans fats in restaurants. The Pennsylvania Trans Fat Task Force recommended against a statewide ban, but critics note the heavy influence of the food industry on the committee’s recommendations. Click here for the full article.

Oregon Teachers Want to be Exempt from Food Standards in Schools

In 2007, a law was passed setting standards for fat, sugar, and calorie content and serving size of food and beverages sold in Oregon schools. Recently, Oregon teachers testified in front of the state’s House Education Committee in favor of House Bill 2419, which would exempt employee areas such as teachers’ lounges from these standards. Read the full article.

Restaurant Changes in Long Island, New York

Suffolk County, New York joined the growing list of states and localities making changes to its restaurant policies. The county passed a calorie menu labeling law and banned the use of trans fats. For the full article, click here.


Encouraging Students towards Healthier Options

A new article from the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service suggests using behavioral economic theory to encourage children to make healthier food choices while in school. Click here for the full article.

Calorie Intake Over Diet Type

Consistently reducing total calories is more important in losing weight than restricting calories from fat, protein, or carbohydrates, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Read the full article.