Weekly Roundup: Controversy Over “Sugarcoating” Childhood Obesity Ads

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A controversial ad campaign in Georgia designed to raise awareness about the dangers of childhood obesity hit the headlines this week after ABC News ran a report studying them. Children’s HealthCare of Atlanta’s Strong4Life campaign bluntly puts forth the negative effects of obesity in television ads and billboards featuring obese children and teens, but opponents say the effort could lead to bullying and will not be effective at reversing the epidemic.

What do you think of the ads? Will they spur parents and policymakers into action, or do they go a step too far? Tell us in the comments.

Nebraska State Senator Introduces Soda Tax

Nebraska Sen. Bill Avery introduced legislation in the state Senate this week that would no longer deem sugary soft drinks as food, thereby allowing these products to be taxed. The Journal Star reports that Avery initially was hesitant to introduce such a measure, but “the more data he saw on the relationship between sugary beverages and childhood obesity, and how they affect child and adult health, the more convinced he became that something needed to be done.” The change in classification could lead to $11 million in revenue for obesity awareness efforts. The Nebraska Beverage Association opposes the measure.

Study Looks at Effect of Breastfeeding and Sugary Drink Consumption

A new study out of the University of Southern California finds that children who are breastfed the longest and drink little-to-no sugary drinks are half as likely to be obese as kids who weren’t breastfed and consumed the most sugar-filled beverages, Reuters reports. The study is said to be among the first to look at the effect of moms who breastfed but also give their youngsters sugary sodas, juices or sports drinks. Researchers found that kids who breastfed but later drank sugary drinks lost some of the weight-related benefits of breastfeeding.

Exercise Linked to Better Academic Performance

The effort to increase physical education in public schools got a boost this week when researchers found that kids who partake in physical activity do better in school. Red Orbit reports that while the researchers conceded that more research was needed, they found “strong evidence of a ‘significant positive relationship’ between physical activity and academic performance.”

Study: Child Care Centers Not Active Enough

Worries about injuries, budget concerns and an emphasis on academics over activity are among the reasons child care centers aren’t providing youngsters with enough time for physical activity, the Los Angeles Times reports. A new study published in the journal Pediatrics looked at why child care centers aren’t offering children ages 3-5 enough play time, which is an important because previous studies have found that intervention at that age is crucial to combat childhood obesity. Notably, First Lady Michelle Obama has made improving the wellness of child care centers a key part of her Let’s Move! campaign.

Lessons from New York

Advocate Marion Nestle recently studied the reasons behind New York’s recent success in lowering childhood obesity rates, arguing that aggressive government intervention will also pay off on a national level. Efforts to improve nutritional quality of the food served in schools, increase time for physical activity, enact school curriculum about good health and offer support to parents all are proven ways to get kids healthier, Nestle argues in The Atlantic.


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