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Small Steps to Solve the Big Problem of Childhood Obesity





According to the CDC, 1 of 7 low-income, preschool-aged children is obese.  A new study tracking the number of calories kids need to consume to become obese finds kids become obese by ingesting a lot of calories. Overweight kids may be consuming far more calories than their doctors or parents realize, but recent studies show efforts made by communities to make healthy foods available to kids register promising reductions in childhood obesity rates.

Health Bucks, a pilot program launched at two NYC hospitals, is part of a national campaign to cajole low-income kids and adults into changing their bad eating habits.  As part of the program, pediatricians write prescriptions for fruits and veggies and kids receive coupons to purchase produce at farmers’ markets across the city.  Promoters of the program contend each dollar invested nourishes the kids’ overall good health.  Look here for insights into how California is fighting childhood obesity.  To compare California’s progress with the progress being achieved in other states, look here.

According to a bipartisan poll commissioned by the First Five Years Fund, 7 in 10 American voters support a cigarette tax to pay for helping 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families get a good early education.  Ed Source analyses the findings and provides the exact wording of the poll’s two key questions here.  In a separate poll configured to assess issues important to rural Americans, 85 percent of those surveyed strongly supported or somewhat supported preschool programs as a way to boost their rural and small-town economies. 

The Executive Chairman of The PNC Financial Services Group, an organization that sponsors Grown Up Great, a bilingual initiative for children from birth to age 5, is encouraged by the reinvigorated focus on school readiness from Sen. Bob Casey and President Obama.  Clearly, he too, is convinced that an investment in preschool produces a higher rate of return than one made in the stockmarket.  Dr. Libby Doggett, an outspoken advocate favoring parental visits to low-income parents and a staunch supporter of early education, will assume the top position in the Office of Early Learning.

Next month, HHS will finalize the new federal rules for child-care centers funded through the Child Care and Development Block GrantThank-you Jonathan Cohn!!!  Some advocates argue the effort to provide children with greater protection is long overdue and insist an even greater investment in child care is requiried.  Others simply express gratitute that this neglected issue is finally receiving some much needed attention.

Not content with failing to deprive nearly 2 million low-income people of food, Congress is taking up the issue of food stamps again.  The timely-release of a white paper produced by the Health Impact Project examines the health ramifications of the new proposed cuts to SNAP.  Using $20.5 billion in cuts as the baseline for the study, the same amount of cuts the House failed to pass in June, the findings reveal that a lack of food and increased poverty cause children living with food insecurity to have a greater risk of health problems, including asthma and depression.

The LAO released a follow-up report on the California state budget showing revenues are running about $2 billion ahead of earlier budget projections.  The general fund is pumped up at a hearty and robust $96.3 billion.  The new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) mandates parental involvement to track how the funds for disadvantaged students are spent.  However, the answer to the question of how the LCFF money can be spent – only to address the needs of individual students or to benefit kids district-wide – remains uncertain.  The spending guidelines from the state are expected imminently, but the absence of clear directives has advocates taking sides and everyone clamoring for a rulebook.

Another unresolved concern involves the infrastructures of California’s K-12 public schools.  They’re a mess.  Recent reporting says the deferred maintenance backlongs at individual sites are ballooning and the revamped funding system for K-12 schools provides no clear guideance on how to fund the  repairs. 



"critical" Patty Scripter of the California PTA commenting how important transparency and parental involvement will be to the success of California’s Local Control Funding Formula.

"I want to locate resources as close to students as possible…” Superintendent of the LAUSD, John Deasy identifying his preference for where the additional funds from the LCFF should be spent.

Day care is the most neglected area of U.S. public policy for children.” From the editors at Bloomberg, who call for the reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant program with new, tougher safety provisions.

If you were to research something like Coca-Cola or smartphones, you would find this kind of agreement across parties.”  Rich Neimand, spokesperson for the First Five Years Fund (FFYF), expressing his elation over the findings in a poll commissioned his organization that shows 70% of Americans favor funding early education with a cigarette tax.



OBESITY AMONG LOW-INCOME PRESCHOOL CHILDREN  Source:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 



STRONG SUPPORT FOR UNIVERSAL PRESCHOOL  Key findings from a national survey of 800 registered voters conducted July 8-11, 2013.  Source:  First Five Years Fund.  Published in Ed Source, July 30, 2013.



Obesity rates among Children in the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The Economic Costs of Obesity  Harvard School of Public Health.

How Many Extra Calories Add Up to Obesity for Kids?

Declining Rates of Childhood Obesity-Where Are We Seeing Progress?

Can Prescriptions For Fruits And Veggies Defeat Obesity?

City Announces Fruit And Veggie Prescription Program

NYC To Offer Prescriptions For Fruits And Vegetables

California: Signs of Progress Toward Reversing the Childhood Obesity Epidemic

Leaders Share Winning Strategies to Reduce Childhood Obesity



POLL.  Early Childhood Education is a National Priority for Voters The First Five Years Fund.

Poll Shows Support for “Preschool for All.” Planet Washington

The First Five Years Fund

Strong bipartisan support for public preschool, new poll suggests

POLL.  Center for Rural Affairs. 

Rural Voters Support Preschool as Strategy to Help Local Economy

Early childhood education pays off for individuals and society

Grown Up Great

S. 502:  Prepare All Kids Act of 2013.

Obama Stumps for Education Spending, Pre-K.

Hey Congress: Pre-K is a better investment than the stock market

Libby Doggett To Fill Long-Empty Early Education Slot In Obama Administration



The Child Care Development Fund  The Federal Register.

The Child Care and Development Block Grant

The Hell of American Day Care

The US can no longer afford to economize on child care

Day care is the most neglected area of U.S. public policy for children



House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill Would Cut Nearly 2 Million People Off SNAP

WHITE PAPER.   Health Impact Project Releases White Paper Examining Proposed Changes to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

The Health Impact Project: A collaboration between The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

House Plan on Food Stamps Would Cut 5 Million From Program



The 2013-2014 Budget:  California Spending Plan  LAO.  July 2013.

California will spend $232.9 Billion in New State Budget

New School Funding Formula Mandates Parental Involvement

Debate looms over how to spend money for high-needs students

Advocates: Start spending new money now on high-needs students

Local Control Funding Formula: Is there a new rulebook?

Deferred classroom repairs loom as a costly crisis for taxpayers.

REPORT.  California’s K-12 Educational Infrastructure Investments  Center for Cities & Schools, Univesity of California, Berkeley.  2012.

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