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Newsroom

This page includes the latest news from the State of Childhood Obesity, press releases and statements from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and relevant reports and comments on proposed federal regulations. It also includes ways to contact State of Childhood Obesity, subscribe to the email list, or follow us on Facebook.

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One in Seven U.S. Youth Have Obesity, Newest Data Show

October 14, 2020 – New data from the National Survey of Children’s Health find 15.5 percent of youth ages 10-17 have obesity. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released the data as part of a new report calling for changes to prioritize children’s health and improve equity in response to the pandemic and throughout recovery.  “The COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing economic recession have worsened many of the broader factors we know contribute to obesity, including poverty and health disparities. We must confront these current crises in ways that also support long-term health and equity for all children and families in the United States,” said RWJF Senior Program Officer Jamie Bussel, who leads the Foundation’s efforts to prevent childhood obesity.

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Little girl playing doctors with teddy bear

October 2020

Report: Prioritizing Children’s Health During the Pandemic

This report, released in October 2020, presents the latest childhood obesity rates and trends, expert insights, relevant research, and policy developments, including emergency relief efforts to support major federal nutrition programs. It highlights promising strategies for prioritizing children’s health and improving equity in response to the pandemic and throughout recovery.

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Press Releases and Statements

Dr. Rich Besser, RWJF President and CEO
STatement

Proposal Would Make School Meals Less Healthy

March 19, 2020

School meals would become significantly less healthy under this new proposal from USDA. Richard Besser, MD, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, shared a statement about the proposal.

Read More on RWJF.org
Dr. Rich Besser, RWJF President and CEO
Statement

Proposed Changes to Food Assistance

October 31, 2019

A proposal would result in nine million people losing access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps. Richard Besser, MD, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, shared a statement about the proposal.

Read More on RWJF.org
Photo of Jamie Bussel from RWJF
Statement

Obesity Rates Drop Among Young Children

June 18, 2019

Obesity rates have declined among children participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Jamie Bussel, senior program officer and childhood obesity lead at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, shared a statement on the data.

Read the Full Statement
National map of state by state obesity rates of children in WIC in 2016.

Childhood Obesity Data and Trends

Find the latest data and trends on childhood and adult obesity from major surveys that track rates at the national and state level, including the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the National Survey of Children’s Health, the WIC Participant and Program Characteristics, and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

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Resources

Report

Obesity Rates Decline Among Young WIC Participants

Nov 21, 2019

This report includes the latest state by state obesity rates among 2- to 4-year-old WIC participants and national rates broken down by gender, race and ethnicity. It describes research about how the WIC program impacts child and maternal health, and features recommendations for extending the positive impact of WIC.

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Regulatory Comments

Comments on Revision of SNAP Categorical Eligibility

Nov 1, 2019

The proposed rule represents an abdication of those responsibilities. USDA’s own research and the nonpartisan studies we cite in our current and previous comments are stark warnings that this proposal would cause significant harm to children and families already struggling with food insecurity. We strongly urge the Department to withdraw its proposal.

Read Comments on RWJF.org
Special feature

Sugary Drinks Harm Kids’ Health

September 2020

Sugary drinks are the single largest source of calories in children’s diets and provide nearly half of kids’ added sugar intake. On average, kids are drinking more than 30 gallons of sugary drinks per year, and reducing or eliminating consumption of sugary drinks is critical for helping kids grow up healthy. This new special feature highlights the latest data and trends on sugary drink consumption and facts about how sugary drinks impact kids’ health. It summarizes efforts and recommendations for reducing consumption, recent research, and stories of communities taking action.

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Regulatory Comments

Comments on SNAP Categorical Eligibility

Sept 19, 2019

SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, reduces food insecurity, improves participants’ health, supports communities and strengthens the economy. This rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture would undermine the ability of the program to do its job and make it harder for families to reduce financial hardship and become food secure. Read the full comments from Richard Besser, MD, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Read Comments on RWJF.org
Report

The State of Obesity 2019: Better Policies for a Healthier America

Sept 12, 2019

The report, produced by Trust for America’s Health, focuses on updated adult obesity rate data and calls for sugary drink taxes, expanded SNAP and WIC nutrition support programs, and a built environment that encourages physical activity to help address health crisis.

See Full Report on TFAH.org
Report

The State of Obesity 2018: Better Policies for a Healthier America

Sept 12, 2018

This report highlights the latest obesity trends as well as strategies, policies, programs, and practices that can reverse the epidemic. The report also details the level of commitment necessary to effectively fight obesity on a large scale and includes key recommendations for specific actions.

See Full Report on TFAH.org