Last week, the National League of Cities, which represents over 19,000 cities, villages and towns, hosted its annual meeting in Boston, with one of its three aims to “strengthen neighborhoods and families.” What better way to accomplish that goal than to challenge fast food’s influence in their communities? While a couple of conference sessions featured First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! program, missing from the agenda was the role fast food plays in communities. That’s why Corporate Accountability International released a report and action guide earlier this year called “Slowing down fast food: A policy guide for healthier kids and families” – to fill this void. Read rest at Corporate Accountability International…
Posts Tagged ‘fast food’
So a new report, Slowing Down Fast Food: A policy guide for healthier kids and families, on how we can fight back couldn’t come at a better time. A joint project of Corporate Accountability International and Dr. Nicholas Freudenberg and Monica Gagnon of The City University of New York, the guide focuses on four local policy approaches: school policy, “healthy” zoning, curbing kid-focused marketing, and redirecting subsidies to healthier businesses. (Full disclosure: I am a consultant for Corporate Accountability.)
While most media outlets dubbed it the “Happy Meal toy ban,” the ordinance passed in San Francisco last year didn’t ban anything. The law just placed a few reasonable nutrition guidelines (a maximum of 600 calories per meal and limits on fat and salt, for example) for restaurants using free toy incentives to lure kids into a lifetime of bad eating habits. In a rare victory for children’s health, the bill passed despite heavy lobbying by McDonald’s. Read rest at Grist…
Last week, I didn’t really have much to say about the replacement of USDA’s infamous food pyramid with the new plate image, which is why I was happy to cross-post Andy Bellatti’s take, which I obviously agree with. But this week a couple of media outlets asked for my opinion, and it should come as no surprise that I do actually have one, in particular in response to the many other reactions.
For most of us working in food policy, it’s hard to remember a time when food outbreaks of bugs like E. coli didn’t happen pretty much weekly. But reading the new book Poisoned by Jeff Benedict made me realize that bacteria-contaminated hamburgers are a relatively recent phenomenon; a striking reminder of how our food system has gone very, very wrong.
Given that the Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak happened back in 1993, it seems odd that no one has written a book about it before. But it’s just as well, because Benedict’s style is tailor made to the task. His detailed and heart-wrenching story-telling makes the 18-year wait well worthwhile.
On election day, while most of the nation was distracted with the mid-term election, another vote was taking place in San Francisco City Hall. The Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance to place limits—based on specific nutrition criteria—on how toys are marketed by restaurants in the city and county of San Francisco.
I am not a fan of any sort of “awareness” month as I find the concept trivializes important health issues. Are we only supposed to care about heart disease, diabetes, etc, during that one month of the year? And I rarely see anything of substance come from the month-long activities, just the usual ineffective educational campaigns, instead of meaningful public policy reforms. Plus many issues tend to crowd themselves into certain months, so it all becomes background noise. September is one such month. Among other causes (e.g., “cholesterol education“), September has been proclaimed “Childhood Obesity Awareness Month” by Congress and President Obama. Continue reading →
OK, so is not one my usual blog posts, but I can’t help sharing my excitement. As I wrote about previously, my book has been translated into Thai, with 1,000 copies already distributed.
The translation and distribution of Appetite for Profit was commissioned by the Chulalongkorn University-based Health Consumer Protection Project, which is now releasing more copies, as was reported yesterday by the Bangkok Post. The article (“Taking a bite of out fast food: An expose details the industry’s attack on food”) includes graphics with pull-out quotes from the book.
If you’re wondering why folks in Thailand would be interested in a book that is admittedly pretty America-centric, it seems there are warning signs that the problem is spreading there. For example, a survey conducted by the Thai Office of the Basic Education Commission found that sodas are available at 20 percent of the 20,000 schools in the country.
And this will sound familiar. Another study found some schools had agreed to allow a beverage giant to sell soda on school property in exchange for the company providing a van.
Here is how Siriwat Tiptaradol, Public Health Ministry deputy permanent secretary and the editor of the Thai version of the book explains it: “The influence of the food industry isn’t limited to the US, but extends all over the world.” The article also makes the case for policy change:
Developing countries like Thailand should be alert about this transnational issue and work with authorities, academics, and the public and private sectors to come up with policies to safeguard people from conditions that result from poor diet such as diabetes, high blood pressure and strokes. Otherwise, these problems will end up costing billions of baht in health care spending every year, Tiptaradol said.
A wise call for prevention before its too late.
Yesterday, I posted the press release from Santa Clara County Supervisor (and Board President) Ken Yeager’s office celebrating the passage of an ordinance that limits to use of toys and other incentives to fast food that meet certain nutrition criteria. As Supervisor Yeager put it:
This ordinance levels the playing field. It helps parents make the choices they want for their children without toys and other freebies luring them toward food that fails to meet basic nutritional standards.
any toy, game, trading card, admission ticket or other consumer product, whether physical or digital…or any coupon, voucher, ticket, token, code, or password redeemable for or granting digital or other access to [those items previously mentioned.]
More than two hundred (200) calories for a Single Food Item, or more than four-hundred eighty-five (485) calories for a Meal;
More than four-hundred and eighty milligrams (480 mg) of sodium for a Single Food Item, or more than six hundred milligrams (600 mg) of sodium for a Meal;
More than thirty-five percent (35%) of total calories from fat.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the restaurant industry sued the County, but we are confident that any case they bring would be unsuccessful. The California Restaurant Association asserted First Amendment challenges to the menu labeling requirements Santa Clara County (and other localities) adopted two years ago, but they now tout menu labeling as an important service they provide to their customers. We hope the restaurant industry would instead put its resources into designing effective ways to promote healthy eating for children.
So just like with menu labeling, a lawsuit is likely to just be a temporary setback. And, by way of responding to those who might think the County has over-reached, he added:
Local government plays an important role in advancing public health. The restaurant industry often works against parents by luring children into developing a taste for unhealthy foods.
I will write more about this soon, but here is the press release:
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