Category Archives: In the Media

STUDY: Children eat more junk food and nearly twice as many calories when bringing their own snacks to after-school programs.

An HPRC study found that children consumed more salty and sugary foods and nearly twice as many calories when they brought their own after-school snack, as compared to when they consumed only program-provided snacks.

Little is known about how after-school settings may affect children’s dietary intake. Evidence suggests that snacks provided directly by afterschool programs rarely include sugary drinks, and afterschool programs receiving federal reimbursement for snacks must adhere to basic nutrition standards, but virtually nothing is known about the quality of snacks brought into after-school programs by children, whether from vending machines, local stores, or packed from home.

By recording snacks served to and brought in by nearly 300 children in 18 Boston after-school programs on five separate days, researchers found that nonprogram snacks contained more sugary beverages and candy than program provided snacks.   Having a non-program snack was associated with significantly higher consumption of total calories compared to when a child only had a program snack to eat.

Snacking accounts for nearly 30 percent of total calorie intake for most US children aged 2 to 18 years, which makes it an important target area for improving children’s diets and potentially reducing childhood obesity. These findings suggest that after-school programs are a key setting for improving children’s snacks, and that policy strategies limiting nonprogram snacks or setting nutritional standards should be explored further as a way to promote child health.

If you represent or are interested in making your child’s after school environment healthier, check out these resources for healthy snacks and beverages, including sample menus, family newsletters, policy writing guides for a better snack time, and a fast map for eliminating sugary drinks.

Kenney EL, Austin SB, Cradock AL, Giles CM, Lee RM, Davison KK, Gortmaker SL. Identifying Sources of Children’s Consumption of Junk Food in Boston After-School Programs, April-May 2011. Prev Chronic Dis. 2014 Nov 20;11:E205.

Getting Kids Excited About Food

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Check out Dr. Steve Gortmaker’s Food Revolution Day guest blog on the importance of getting kids excited about healthy eating and living, and the work the HPRC is doing to create tools for change:

Getting kids excited about food and nutrition is going to be crucial to the success of a food revolution. Kids need to be interested in and excited about ways to get healthy if they’re going to maintain those habits in the long term, and they need the environments in which they spend their time to support healthier eating and more exercise.

The home is a key environment for teaching healthy habits, but it is just one of the many spaces in which children spend their time. From preschools and schools to organized sports, after-school programs, and summer camps, healthy eating and physical activity must also be integrated into the places where children learn and play—but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case…continue reading on Food Revolution Day

Spotlight on WATER

The recent launch of First Lady Michelle Obama’s and Partnership for a Healthier America’s “Drink Up” campaign has made H2O a focus of national conversation.

Water access and consumption is one of HPRC’s five identified key targets for girl_drinking_fountain_000001809540xsmall-1obesity prevention. From the national down to the local level,  we have plenty of resources to contribute to the discussion:

Out of School Time Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative (OSNAP) Resources:

NOPREN Water Access Working Group
The Water Access working group focuses on policies and economic issues regarding free and safe water access.

Articles
Cradock AL, Wilking C, Olliges S, Gortmaker G. Getting Back on Tap: The Policy Context and Cost of Ensuring Access to Low-Cost Drinking Water in Massachusetts Schools. Am J Prev Med. 2012 Sep;43(3 Suppl 2):S95-101.

Giles CM, Kenney EL, Gortmaker SL, Lee RM, Thayer JC, Mont-Ferguson H, Cradock AL. Increasing Water Availability During Afterschool Snack: Evidence, Strategies, and Partnerships from a Group Randomized Trial. Am J Prev Med. 2012 Sep;43(3 Suppl 2):S136-42.

Kids may not offset extra exercise at school

(Reuters Health) – Children who exercise at school don’t make up for the extra effort by being less active at home, according to a new U.S. study that used accelerometers to track kids’ activity levels.

“What this argues for is we should be increasing activity in schools,” said Michael Long, the lead author of the new study and a post-doctoral research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts.

Read the full article 

Dr. Michele Polacsek & MYOC featured by NCI’s “Research to Reality” online community!

The Maine Youth Overweight Collaborative’s (MYOC) toolkit, “Keep ME Heatlhy” has now been included in the National Cancer Institute’s online community “Research to Reality (R2R).”

Join in the discussion about Keep ME Healthy and redressing the childhood obesity pandemic with July’s featured R2R Partner Dr. Michele Polacsek.

VIDEO: Dr. Steven Gortmaker featured in NEJM roundtable discussion on “Health Promotion and the State”

“Some major U.S. public health problems are perpetuated and exacerbated at least in part by lifestyle choices and individual behavior. Policymakers at all levels of government are struggling to find ways of intervening to promote wellness and reduce unhealthy behaviors without overstepping the limits of their authority or infringing on personal liberties. What can and should government do to reduce obesity and tobacco use?”

Watch experts Thomas Farley, Steven Gortmaker, and Cass Sunstein address these and other questions about health promotion and the state in this video roundtable discussion

Boston launches ad campaign against sugary beverages

(The Boston Globe) — “Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston and public health authorities unveiled a public awareness campaign…that urges residents to reduce consumption of sweetened beverages…The campaign, which will include a media blitz, premieres a month before an executive order by Menino phases out the sale, advertising, and promotion of sugar-sweetened beverages in all city buildings…The…federally funded campaign will blanket Boston…[and] focus on black and Latino neighborhoods.”

Sugar Withdrawal – Boston high school students have fewer sweetened drinks

(The Boston Globe) — “The seven-year-old policy restricting the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages in Boston Public Schools appears to be paying off: Consumption dropped among high school students…The drop in Boston compares with very little change…among teenagers nationally…The Massachusetts Department of Public Health, at the direction of state legislators…proposed instituting a similar policy in all the state’s public schools that would take effect in the 2012-2013 school year.”