Public schools would face their first-ever limit on sugar in the food they serve in their cafeterias as part of an Agriculture Department proposal for healthier meals. The USDA package called for a staggered phase-in of new standards on sugar, sodium, whole grains and flavored milk, but was criticized as costly and unworkable by school food directors.
Next fall, the Biden administration will propose new nutrition standards for school meals, the the first attempt to strengthen the rules since 2012. Health advocates are already starting to make their wish lists known—further lowering sodium, making meals more nutritious and, for the first time ever, capping the amount of added sugar in food served to students. (No paywall)
School nutrition standards haven’t been updated since 2010, when the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act — former First Lady Michelle Obama’s overhaul of school nutrition standards that mandated more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and reduced sodium — was passed. As Congress moves forward with a long-overdue Child Nutrition Reauthorization, lawmakers and advocates are sparring over what changes, if any, should be made to the food kids eat at school.(No paywall)
With nearly one in five American youths suffering obesity, schools should provide optimal nutrition in the meals served daily to 29.5 million students a day, said former agriculture secretaries Ann Veneman and Dan Glickman. The co-chairs of a prevention initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Veneman and Glickman said the Trump administration proposals announced last week "would reduce the nutritional quality of foods served to children in both school breakfast and lunch programs."
Each child and teenager in the United States consumes enough sugary beverages to fill a bath tub every year, said the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association. Citing strong evidence of an association between added sugars and an increased risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses, the prominent medical groups said they supported soda taxes to reduce consumption of added sugars.
It won’t be official for months, but FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb outlined on Thursday a solution to a food-labeling issue that had honey producers buzzing and had tapped the ire of the maple syrup industry.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association, a giant among trade groups, is beginning to bleed members, with Nestlé the latest foodmaker to pull out, says Politico. "Complacency and a lack of leadership" at GMA are a factor, along with the hurly-burly of competing for sales in an evolving marketplace, it says.
The FDA plans to delay the debut of the updated Nutrition Facts label to Jan. 1, 2020, some 43 months after the Obama administration unveiled the first overhaul of the label in 20 years. The agency said it acted "in response to the continued concern that companies and trade associations have shared with us regarding the time needed for implementation of the final rules."
A year ago, Washington D.C.’s Capital Area Food Bank — one of the largest food banks in the country — decided to turn away junk food, joining a growing trend of food banks who are trying to offer healthier options to low-income Americans. From soda to chips, the CAFB has reduced the junk food it supplies to its 444 nonprofit partners, including soup kitchens and food pantries, by 84 percent.
On his sixth day on the job, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, in the name of regulatory flexibility and making school meals more attractive to students, gave schools the green light to serve chocolate milk again. A new study suggests, however, that over time, schoolchildren do not miss flavored milk all that much.
Since their first appearance in health-centric stores more than a decade ago, the Kind company’s fruit-and-nut bars have become ubiquitous, occupying an ever-expanding sprawl of shelf space in big box stores and gas stations across the country. The company has thrived on a do-gooder ethos that encourages not just healthy eating, but righteous living. Employees who witness “random acts of kindness” are encouraged to bestow the company’s products on good samaritans. Kind is now a $1-billion company.
The sunny side of a USDA examination of food consumption is that Americans are eating more fruits and vegetables than they did four decades ago. In fact, they're eating a lot more of everything, except for dairy products — nearly 400 calories a day more — during a period of rising rates of obesity.
A prominent medical journal published what the New York Times called a "scathing attack on global health advice to eat less sugar," arguing that such recommendations were based on weak evidence. Just as quickly, however, critics of the study pointed out that it was biased.
Taxes on sugary beverages are a tool for reducing obesity and chronic disease such as diabetes, says a WHO report that also advocates subsidies to encourage people to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Prevalence of obesity worldwide has doubled since 1980 and now includes more than half a billion adults, while 39 percent of adults are overweight.
The consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest says the two major U.S. soft-drink bottlers, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, and the trade group American Beverage Association "have spent a minimum of $67 million since 2009 to defeat soda taxes and warning labels in 19 cities and states." Four cities will vote on local soda taxes on Nov. 8, and there are published reports in Chicago that the president of the Cook County Board is looking at a tax on sugary beverages.
Industry documents reveal that the sugar industry began working closely with nutrition scientists in the mid-1960s to single out fat and cholesterol as the dietary causes of coronary heart disease and to downplay evidence that sugar was also a risk factor, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
In a first-round vote, the Philadelphia City Council voted for a 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks and diet sodas. Council members must approve the levy for a second time next Thursday to become the second city in the country with a soda tax, "but it appears they have reached the final deal," said Philadelphia Magazine.
The updated Nutrition Facts label "is going to make a real difference in providing families across the country the information they need to make healthy choices," said First Lady Michelle Obama. The new label, to be in full use by July 2018, prominently lists the number of calories in a serving, expands serving sizes in line with U.S. eating patterns, and for the first time shows how many grams of sugar are added to foods during processing.