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Poll Released on Parents Support for Healthier School Food Policies

The American Heart Association, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the PEW Charitable Trusts released a poll earlier this week which found the majority of parents support national nutrition standards for both school meals and snack food and beverages sold in schools.  Check it out below!

Parents Support Healthier School Food Policies by 3-to-1 Margin

WASHINGTON—The vast majority of parents of school-age children support strong national nutrition standards for all foods and beverages sold to students during school, according to a poll released today by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and the American Heart Association (AHA). The findings come as school districts implement the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s "Smart Snacks in School" nutrition standards, which set basic limits on the fat, salt, and calories in foods and beverages sold through vending machines, school stores, and a la carte cafeteria menus.

The nationally representative poll assessed parents’ opinions of nutrition standards for both school meals and snack foods and beverages. Among the findings:

  • Most parents favor nutrition standards for all food served in schools.
    • 72 percent favor national standards for school meals.
    • 72 percent support standards for school snacks.
    • 91 percent support requiring schools to include a serving of fruits or vegetables with every meal.
    • 75 percent think salt should be limited in meals.
  • The majority of parents are concerned with the state of children’s health (80 percent) and with childhood obesity (74 percent).
  • Most parents hold a mixed or negative opinion of the nutritional quality of snack foods and beverages traditionally sold in schools and consider them to be only somewhat or not at all healthy. This applies to    foods sold a la carte (69 percent), in school stores (72 percent), and in vending machines (81 percent).

The Agriculture Department’s "Smart Snacks" standards, which took effect on July 1, 2014, represent the first major updates to national guidelines for school snack foods and beverages in more than 30 years. To meet the standards, a snack food must be a fruit, a vegetable, protein, dairy, or whole grain; have fewer than 200 calories; and be low in fat, sodium, and sugar. These guidelines follow similar nutrition standards for school lunches that took effect during the 2012-13 school year and are being met by approximately 90 percent of school districts.

Research has shown that both student health and school food service revenue can benefit from selling healthier snack foods and beverages. For example, a health impact assessment conducted by the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project found that when schools implement healthier standards for snack and a la carte foods, students are more likely to purchase a school meal—a change that improves children's diets and school budgets at the same time, because schools earn reimbursements for meal sales.

The poll was conducted by Hart Research Associates and Ferguson Research. Data were collected via telephone surveys between June 19 and 28, 2014, among registered voters who are parents of public school students.

Pew, RWJF, and AHA are jointly supporting efforts to ensure all foods and beverages in schools are healthy. The Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project is a collaboration between Pew and RWJF. Voices for Healthy Kids is an initiative of RWJF and AHA, with Pew providing additional expertise.

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The Kids' Safe and Healthful Foods Project provides nonpartisan analysis and evidence-based recommendations on policies that affect the safety and healthfulness of school foods. The project is a collaboration between The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Learn more at www.healthyschoolfoodsnow.org. 

Voices for Healthy Kids is a national advocacy initiative focused on uniting the movement to prevent childhood obesity. A collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and American Heart Association, the initiative seeks to help reverse the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic by 2015 by ensuring children have access to healthy foods and beverages, as well as safe opportunities for physical activity. Learn more about the childhood obesity epidemic and how you can help turn it around at www.voicesforhealthykids.org

 

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Letter to the Editor - MN Schools Reducing Physical Education

This weekend the Star Tribune ran an article talking about PE in Minnesota and the waivers schools are seeking in order to close the education gap. We know that fit kids learn better and less Physical Education isn't the answer. Please check out the Letter to the Editor that ran in the Star Tribune in response to this article from AHA's Rachel Callanan, who is the Regional Vice President of Advocacy for Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Minneapolis Public Schools face great challenges in closing the achievement gap. However, reducing or eliminating physical education is not the solution ("No gym, no sweat" Sept. 7, 2014). In fact, data from the 2013 Minnesota Student Survey show that children who report being more physically active also report higher grades. There is a growing body of research that school-based physical activity positively affects student performance, improves classroom behavior, and improves cognitive function. With this evidence in mind, we should be giving students MORE opportunities to be physically active and learn lifelong skills for physical activity through physical education, not reducing them.

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August Recess Recap

During the August Recess, state advocates delivered special puzzle pieces highlighting nutritional foods that "fit" into a successful school day for every child. Members of congress are trying to roll-back strong nutrition standards for school meals, and we want to remind them how important it is to keep our kids healthy! Check out the links below to see the great work our advocates did during the legislative break!

August Recess Visit: Rep. Keith Ellison

August Recess Visit: Congresswoman Betty McCollum

August Recess Visit: Rep. John Kline

August Recess: Representative Peterson

We would like the thank Mark Olson, Jolene Tesch, Helen Bagshaw, Dale Wakasugi, Mary Bertram, and Jo DeBruycker one last time for volunteering!

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The State of Obesity: Minnesota Report

In recognition of Childhood Obesity Awareness month, we are pleased to be able to provide our advocates with the most recent statistics on childhood obesity in our state and across the nation. The State of Obesity report (formerly F as in Fat), a project of the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, provides a close-up look at our progress toward reducing childhood obesity, and the work that lies ahead of us to ensure our kids are growing up healthy and strong. 

You can read the full report by clicking here to visit www.stateofobesity.org

For the past 11 years, this report has raised awareness about the serious nature of obesity, and encouraged the creation of a national obesity prevention strategy. The American Heart Association has worked alongside our partners at the Trust and RWJ Foundation, and others, to develop effective approaches for reversing the obesity epidemic at the state and federal level.

Minnesota is ranked 41st among all states and the District of Columbia. 

Click here to see our state report.

The report also highlights the various policy objectives that are important in our fight to reduce obesity: physical activity before, during and after school, school nutrition, access to healthy and affordable food, food and beverage marketing, etc. Reducing obesity in our communities will take dedication, focus, innovation and cooperation. Please join us in this fight! See how you can take action at www.yourethecure.org.

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The State of Obesity: Illinois Report

In recognition of Childhood Obesity Awareness month, we are pleased to be able to provide our advocates with the most recent statistics on childhood obesity in our state and across the nation. The State of Obesity report (formerly F as in Fat), a project of the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, provides a close-up look at our progress toward reducing childhood obesity, and the work that lies ahead of us to ensure our kids are growing up healthy and strong. 

You can read the full report by clicking here to visit www.stateofobesity.org

For the past 11 years, this report has raised awareness about the serious nature of obesity, and encouraged the creation of a national obesity prevention strategy. The American Heart Association has worked alongside our partners at the Trust and RWJ Foundation, and others, to develop effective approaches for reversing the obesity epidemic at the state and federal level.

Illinois is ranked 25th among all states and the District of Columbia. 

Click here to see our state report.

The report also highlights the various policy objectives that are important in our fight to reduce obesity: physical activity before, during and after school, school nutrition, access to healthy and affordable food, food and beverage marketing, etc. Reducing obesity in our communities will take dedication, focus, innovation and cooperation. Please join us in this fight! See how you can take action at www.yourethecure.org.

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August Recess Visit: Congresswoman Betty McCollum

Don't be puzzled! You're the Cure advocate and Minnesota State Advocacy Committee President Dale Wakasugi dropped by Congresswoman Betty McCollum's office during session break, and shared his thoughts with the new intern from the University of Minnesota on continued support of the "healthy, hunger-free kids act". We simply need more time and support to give students time to adapt. This truly is a healthy recipe for school nutrition! Lets keep it moving!!

Thanks Dale for delivering this important message!

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August Recess Visit: Rep. Keith Ellison

You’re the Cure advocate and Minnesota State Advocacy Committee member, Mark Olson visited Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison's office to deliver a few special puzzle pieces highlighting nutritional foods that "fit" into a successful school day for every child. Like other advocates across the country, Mark was puzzled by some Members of Congress are trying to roll-back strong nutrition standards for school meals. He was able to talk with Ellison's District Director Jamie Long! Thanks to Mark for being a advocate and delivering this very important message, and for the great picture!

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August Recess Visit: Rep. John Kline

You’re the Cure advocate and Minnesota State Advocacy Committee member, Jolene Tesch and her two little ones Charlie and Raina visited Minnesota Representative John Kline’s office today to deliver a few special puzzle pieces highlighting nutritional foods that "fit" into a successful school day for every child. Like other advocates across the country, Jolene was puzzled by some Members of Congress are trying to roll-back strong nutrition standards for school meals. She especially wants to make sure her two little ones have healthy school lunches!  Thanks Jolene, Charlie and Raina for being great advocates and delivering this very important message and even snapping a picture while you visited the office.

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August Recess: Representative Peterson

You're the Cure advocates like Mary Bertram and Minnesota Advocacy Committee member, Jo DeBruycker are puzzled why some Members of Congress are trying to roll-back strong nutrition standards for school meals. So Mary and Jo made a visit to Representative Colin Peterson's office, delivering a special puzzle highlighting that nutritious foods "fit" into a successful school day for every child. They also made sure to grab a photo while there and even managed to get Rep. Peterson in the picture (even if it was only a picture of him).

 

Want to help too? Speak-up for quality food in schools:  http://bit.ly/1oWE1HP #SaveSchoolLunch

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Study Released on Childhood Obesity Policy

Health Talk (University of Minnesota)  posted an article today on Childhood Obesity Research.  Check it out! AHA's RVP of Advocacy, Rachel Callanan was co-author!

How our legislators make decisions depends on a variety of factors such as expert beliefs, constituents’ opinions, political principles and research-based evidence. And while we’d like to think more decisions are made utilizing research-based evidence, a new study by researchers at the School of Public Health and the Medical School at the University of Minnesota along with collaborators at the American Heart Association and the Public Health Law Center found only 41 percent of all formal legislative discussions over childhood obesity-related bills in Minnesota from 2007-2011 cited some form of research-based evidence.

The new study published in the American Journal of Public Health looked to quantify the extent to which research-based evidence compared to non-research-based information was used in legislative materials about childhood obesity, an issue that continues to be prevalent not only in Minnesota but across the U.S.

"Quantifying how legislators make decisions regarding childhood obesity is important because public health researchers, like those at the University of Minnesota, have produced a considerable amount of policy-relevant research," said Sarah Gollust, Ph.D., lead author and assistant professor in the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. "Research evidence regarding obesity costs, causes, consequences and the impact of potential policies could be of great value for policy decisions if it is translated to decision-makers effectively." Continue reading the article here

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