Leaders Encouraging Activity and Nutrition
Happy holidays! We hope you have a wonderful holiday season. This edition of California Project LEAN's enews highlights new resources and tools to promote water consumption and eliminate sports drinks in schools. Learn more about the 2010 California Obesity Plan, a call to action for all sectors - individuals, government, health care providers, community-based organizations, and others - to join together to reverse the obesity trend. If you work with youth, read about the scholarships available for youth teams to attend the 2011 Childhood Obesity Conference in San Diego.
2010 California Obesity Prevention Plan Gets Revitalized
The updated California Obesity Prevention Plan (Plan), available in both English and Spanish, builds upon the goals, objectives, and strategies originally outlined in the 2006 California Obesity Prevention Plan, with a stronger focus on the importance of implementing policy and environmental change strategies in order to move the needle on California's obesity epidemic. The 2010 Plan also provides a broader array of obesity prevention strategies and highlights successful actions currently being implemented across the state.
"We look forward to continuing our efforts together and developing new partnerships along the way as we move forward to implement the Plan's strategies for a healthy California," said Peggy Agron, Section Chief overseeing the California Obesity Prevention Program of the California Department of Public Health.
The Plan is expected to be a springboard for action. It calls on all identified sectors: State, Local, and Tribal Governments; Employers; Health Care; Families; Community Organizations; Schools; Child Care; Food and Beverage Industry; and Entertainment and Professional Sports, as well as others, to join together to improve the health of all Californians. It recognizes that people make decisions in the context of their environment, and today in California there are strong environmental forces that often make the healthy choice the difficult choice. People in all communities should have equitable access to safe places to play, affordable healthy foods and beverages, and less access to high-calorie foods and sugar-sweetened beverages.
The Plan offers four overarching goals to be undertaken within the next five years. The goals are:
- Ensure state-level leadership and coordination of statewide obesity prevention efforts.
- Expand statewide public education campaigns to promote health eating and active living.
- Coordinate the state's effort with local governments and communities to improve access to healthy eating and physical activity.
- Create and implement a statewide evaluation system.
The California Department of Public Health's California Obesity Prevention Program is charged with overseeing the implementation and monitoring of the Plan. The program is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Promoting Water Consumption in Schools
As efforts grow to get rid of unhealthy, sugary drinks in schools, it becomes more important to promote the healthiest drink: water. However, according to a recent survey in California, at least 40 percent of responding school districts reported not having water available to students during meals.
A recent report from the Surgeon General on combating obesity highlights the need to promote water consumption in schools. Replacing sugary drinks with water has been associated with decreased calorie intake and weight loss in overweight adults and adolescents. Research has found that the combination of nutrition education with the actual provision of water can have a beneficial impact on children's water consumption and weight status.
California Food Policy Advocates, with support from the California Obesity Prevention Program of the California Department of Public Health has put together a web-based toolkit aimed at promoting water consumption in schools. The toolkit includes:
- Background on the importance of water for a healthy diet and for obesity prevention
- Facts on what is currently required in schools
- A snapshot of current water availability in schools
- Case studies and best practices
- Guidance and action steps to get things going at your school
The toolkit will be updated periodically with new information as policies and requirements change, as more best practices become available, and as new success stories arise.
For more information or questions, please contact Kumar Chandran, California Food Policy Advocates, 510-433-1122 x129. Read more about water in schools.
Positive Changes Coming to Federal Child Nutrition Programs
The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill, also know as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, passed in early December. This bill contains the most significant improvements to child nutrition programs in more than 30 years and identifies two major goals for Federal child nutrition programs - to reduce childhood hunger and obesity. The bill outlines changes that will improve the quality of foods offered, expand access to child nutrition programs, and increase flexibility in program management.
A few of the changes the bill is mandating include:
- Updates to the nutrition standards for all foods sold on school campuses during the school day
- Increases in eligibility for school lunches
- Expansion of summer feeding programs
- Increases in funding to support 20 million additional after school meals annually (versus snacks only)
- Increases to the reimbursement rates for schools for free lunches
- Requirements that school district have implementation plans for their local school wellness policy and report on progress with implementation
- Funds for farm to school programs
This bill impacts the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Services Program, After School Snack and Meal Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-ED) in California known as Cal Fresh. These programs help more than 30 million low-income children every year access healthy, nutritious food.
For more information about child nutrition assistance programs see http://www.fns.usda.gov/fns/.
California Project LEAN continues to work with communities and schools to implement policies that will improve access to healthy foods and physical activity opportunities. Visit our website at www.CaliforniaProjectLEAN.org for more information on our programs which center around youth, parent, school board member, and promotora stakeholder engagement as an essential component of obesity prevention and health promotion.
Oakland Unified School District Gets Rid of Sports Drinks
Current legislation in California allows electrolyte replacement beverages (ERBs), a type of sugar-sweetened beverage commonly referred to as sports drinks, to be sold in public middle and high schools. "Legislation passed in 2005 got rid of the worst of the worst of these products," said Peggy Agron, Chief of California Project LEAN. "But the legislation still allows products that are not necessarily healthy or needed while at school to be sold." Many school districts are not waiting for state legislation to pass before they prohibit ERBs. California Project LEAN has created Case Studies: Eliminating Electrolyte Replacement Beverages in California Public Schools. Below is one story.
Oakland Unified School District is a PreK-12 district serving 39,000 students in 109 schools, with 68 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced-priced meals. The district's Wellness Committee made the decision to stop selling ERBs while drafting the wellness policy in 2005. Jennifer LeBarre, Director of Nutrition Services, was originally concerned about lowered revenue, but ultimately supported the change due to concerns about obesity rates in the community and the high sodium content of ERBs.
"I don't give my own child these beverages, so I shouldn't be selling them to my students," said Jennifer, who decided that an impact on revenue was not a good reason to continue selling the beverages. Oakland Unified School District chose to gradually phase out the ERBs in order to sell the remaining inventory, as well as to allow the students to adjust to the change. "A phase out could be a good way to go because it can be done just as you would any other menu change," explained Jennifer. "There were no student complaints when the products were no longer available."
While the district would probably have stopped selling ERBs at some point, Jennifer agrees that having a policy directive caused the change to happen more quickly and ensured that the change is more sustainable for future years to come.
Youth Scholarships Available to Attend Childhood Obesity Conference
Do you know or work with young advocates for healthy eating and physical activity? California Project LEAN is providing full scholarships for teams of youth leaders ages 14 to 18 and their adult allies to attend and participate in the Childhood Obesity Conference in San Diego, California, all expenses covered!
The Childhood Obesity Conference is the nation's largest, most influential collaboration of professionals dedicated to combating pediatric obesity. The Conference takes place June 27 to
July 1, 2011.
Scholarships are available for teams of three members: two youth and one adult per team. It's a chance for youth leaders to share their stories, connect with other leaders, and get empowered! Adult allies will have the opportunity to network with obesity prevention experts. More information and application instructions are available online. Deadline to apply is March 18, 2011.
For more information, visit