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Friday, June 24, 2011

IOM Report on Obesity Prevention for Young Children


The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has released its first report on obesity prevention for young children. Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies contains recommendations for decision makers, childcare providers, and others who can influence the environments of infants, toddlers, and preschool age children. More and more research is showing that birth to age five is a critical time for shaping a young child’s eating and physical activity habits. Although some amount of “baby fat” is necessary for normal growth and development, we now know that excessive chubbiness puts children at risk for future obesity and chronic diseases. Children’s weights have been increasing over the past few decades, just as adults’ weights have. Most childhood obesity interventions are directed at school-age children, an age that many are now thinking is already too late. Early childhood is the perfect time to intervene because children do not yet have unhealthy habits that need to be “unlearned” later. This report offers an authoritative science-based set of recommendations for child care providers, daycare administrators, and regulatory agencies to help reverse the childhood obesity epidemic by focusing on our youngest members of society.

Alyson Hazen Kristensen, MPH
Senior Fellow & Program Officer


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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Second Anniversary of the Tobacco Control Act



Today is the two year anniversary of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act).  In 1996, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s attempt at regulating the tobacco industry was denied by the Supreme Court, who declared that Congress’s approval was needed.  In 2009, the House and Senate approved the Tobacco Control Act and it was signed by President Obama on June 22nd to allow regulation of tobacco manufacturing, marketing, and sales. 

The Tobacco Control Act gives the FDA certain authority over tobacco products in order to reduce tobacco use by adolescents and to protect overall public health.  In just two years, the FDA has already instituted significant provisions.  One such provision was the FDA’s prohibition of tobacco companies’ use of the words “light,” “mild,” or “low” on tobacco products. Tobacco products with such labels as “mild” or “light” lead smokers to believe they are less harmful than “regular” tobacco products.  By banning these terms, the FDA hopes to impact public health and increase motivation to quit smoking.  Additionally, under the Tobacco Control Act, tobacco companies are no longer allowed to offer branded sponsorship to athletic, educational, or cultural events. 

The FDA’s most recent exercise of power under this Act occurred just yesterday, with the unveiling of nine graphic warning labels to appear on every pack of cigarettes.  These labels are meant to deter smokers of all ages with imagery and captions stating the various harms of smoking cigarettes.

Since its establishment two years ago, the Tobacco Control Act has been a beneficial tool for the FDA to reduce tobacco use across the United States, and will continue to be utilized in order to promote health and save lives.

Genna Reed
Tobacco Control Team


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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

FDA Announces New Cigarette Warning Labels



This afternoon at the White House, Partnership for Prevention attended the unveiling of the nine graphic health warnings that will appear on every pack of cigarettes sold in the United States and in every cigarette advertisement. Beginning September 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will require larger, more noticeable health warnings, replacing the Surgeon General warning that is currently displayed.  This marks the first change in cigarette packaging in more than 25 years. The graphic warnings attempt to accurately communicate the dangers of smoking by representing serious tobacco-related health risks including death, addiction, lung disease, cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Each warning is also accompanied by a smoking cessation phone number, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, which provides information and support from trained professionals to help smokers who are interested in quitting. 

The FDA worked with experts in the fields of health communications, marketing, graphic design, and advertising to develop 36 proposed graphic images. They conducted a large-scale study with 18,000 participants from different age groups and ethnic backgrounds to measure consumer responses to the images and determine relative effectiveness of the proposed warnings. They also released the images to the public and received 1,700 comments from various groups. After reviewing relevant scientific literature, analyzing the results of the study, and reviewing public comments, the FDA selected the final nine images.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act requires the new graphic health warnings to appear on every cigarette pack, carton, and advertisement by September 22, 2012. They will appear on the top 50 percent of both the front and back panels of each cigarette package and in the upper portion of each cigarette advertisement. This rule applies to anyone who packages, distributes, imports, or sells cigarette products in the United States. The FDA intends to monitor and evaluate the impact of the required warnings once they enter the marketplace to determine their effectiveness with various target audiences.

“These labels are frank, honest and powerful depictions of the health risks of smoking and they will help encourage smokers to quit, and prevent children from smoking.” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Tobacco use is responsible for 433,000 deaths annually and costs our economy nearly $200 billion each year in medical costs and lost productivity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The introduction of these warnings is expected to have a major public health impact by decreasing the number of smokers, resulting in many lives saved and improved health.

Jenna Frkovich
Tobacco Control Team


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