Committee on Children
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING NUTRITION STANDARDS FOR CHILD CARE SETTINGS.
SPONSORS OF BILL:
COMMITTEE ON CHILDREN
REASONS FOR BILL:
To help reduce obesity in children and help to create healthy habits by establishing certain nutrition standards for child care settings and early education programs.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Jewel Mullen, Commissioner of CT Department of Public Health: Per DPH's most recent study on the prevalence of obese and overweight kindergarten children and the DPH Every Smile Counts and Obesity Survey, 29.8% of kindergarteners were obese and overweight. The CDC recommends limiting consumption of added sugar. “The leading source of added sugar for children is sugar-sweetened drinks.” Approximately 75% of all children under six years of age participate in a type of organized child care outside the home. This bill would establish CT nutrition standards for child care settings and early education programs which would be in alignment with CDC's findings. However, the regulatory responsibilities of the DPH's child care licensing program could create a fiscal impact to the Department and the Office of Early Childhood Education
Myra Jones-Taylor, Executive Director, CT Office of Early Childhood: “CDC suggests that addressing policy, environment and behavior can play a role in reducing childhood obesity.” In CT, there are efforts to address nutrition in early childhood settings. Early child care programs have an opportunity to participate in the federally funded Child and Adult Care Food Program. The increasing regulatory responsibilities of CT's child care licensing program could create a fiscal impact for additional staff to monitor and follow-up with noncompliance.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Senator Donald E. Williams, Jr., President Pro Tempore: According to the state DPH, obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. after smoking. It is a major risk factor for many chronic diseases. Over 60% of overweight children exhibit at least one risk factor for heart disease. Type 2 diabetes now represents up to 45% of new pediatric cases. In a 2012 report, DPH reported that almost one third of CT kindergartners and third graders measured were either overweight or obese. The findings from Emory researchers show that “a substantial component of childhood obesity is established by the age of 5 years.” The day care beverage nutrition standards not only could reduce the amount of sugar ingested by CT children but could play a critical role in helping to establish healthy tastes and habits. The bill is a common sense and easily achievable reform.
John Bailey, American Heart/Stroke Association: With about one in three American kids and teens overweight or obese, nearly triple the rate in 1963, addressing the issue of good nutrition is critical. Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, addressing the childhood obesity epidemic stated: “Because of the increasing rates of obesity, unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity, we may see the first generation that will be less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.” Nutrition education is meaningless if contradicted by activities that promote unhealthy choices.
Dr. Michelle Cloutier, Connecticut Children's Medical Center: Despite a recent report from the CDC about the decrease in obesity rates in young children, rates of overweight and obesity in preschool children in Hartford and the state, as recently as 2012, remain high. This bill would bring our child care centers in line with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations on sugar sweetened beverages, juice and milk for young children. A study at CT Children's Medical Center of 2-4 year olds demonstrated that reducing juice intake and changing to no more than 2 cups a day of 1% milk, blunted the BMI trajectory in young children.
Mary Kate Lowndes, Connecticut Commission on Children: The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, through the NYC Health Code, has beverage provisions that are mirrored in bill. Concern has been noted about overlap between this language and the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). “Programs enrolled in CACFP must meet USDA meal guidelines in order to claim reimbursement. The beverage types and amounts described in SB 48 do not conflict with CACFP.”
American Cancer Society: “Obesity, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition are major risk factors for cancer, second only to tobacco use.” One third of cancer deaths in US this year can be attributed to them. Obesity rates among children and adolescents have tripled in the past 30 years. “Between 50-100% of a child's daily nutrition requirements comes from childcare and other away-from-home settings.” It is essential that strong policies to improve nutrition and calorie balance be put in place, especially in childcare settings.
Madhu Mathur, MD, Obesity Medicine Physician & Pediatrician, Stamford Hospital: Such nutrition standards will send a strong message to parents and providers who are confused about the nutrition value of juice. Many parents consider juice as the essence of fruit, not realizing many nutrients and fiber in fruit are missing in juice and that it is not an appropriate substitute for water.
Maureen Farrell, Regional YMCA of Western CT: This legislation aligns with the Institute of Medicine recommendations for healthy eating. Empty calories from sugar sweetened beverages contribute to approximately 22% of a child's total daily caloric intake. On average, children ages 2-18 consume 171 empty calories per day from beverages such as soda and fruit drinks. This bill can help inform parents about the health consequences of consuming too much sugar and reinforce that low-fat milk is recommended for children over 2 years old.
Lucy Nolan, Executive Director, End Hunger Connecticut!: Recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, announced a 43% drop in obesity rates in children ages 2-5. Among reasons given were the creation of better access to healthier foods through programs such as WIC and CACFP. We need to continue this downward trend. Once children develop a taste for sugar early on, it is hard to break the habit and get them to want water. Urges support for the bill but recommends removal of section 5.
Merrill Gay, Executive Director, CT Early Childhood Alliance: The limit of 6 oz. of 100% fruit juice per day is in keeping with the American Academy of Pediatric's recommendations and does not appear to conflict with the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) guidelines. “The one section that we would urge caution around is the one that prescribes 1% milk.” A recent study showed that children who drank 1% milk were more likely to be over weight four years later.
John L. Cattelan, Executive Director, CT Alliance of YMCAs: ABC News' chief health and medical editor, Dr. Besser, stated, “Study after study links intake of sugary drinks to poor health effects.” It can also have lifelong psychological effect on child. The American Academy of Pediatrics supports policy changes that would decrease consumption of sugar sweetened beverages for children. A list of studies by Yale Rudd Center attached to testimony.
John Myers, Executive Director, Southington-Cheshire Community YMCAs: This bill will go a long ways to help educate our communities and families. In many instances, the public is simply unaware of the nutritional damage we are inadvertently placing on our children.
Emily Lifanda, student, Southern CT State University: We need consistency so that children who get healthy meals at home also get same in child care settings. This bill helps not only raise healthy children but will also save state money by having less sick children.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Gerry Pastor, Executive Director, CT Child Care Association: Bill is consistent with current best practice recommendations by most recognized experts. While, in support of issues that improve health of children, CCCA does not support bill. “Tracking and providing evidence of whether our teachers are indeed serving the proper amounts, or whether nonconforming beverages were brought in by a child's guardian and maintaining evidence of this seems onerous.”
Reported by: Elizabeth S. Giannaros, Clerk
Date: March 14, 2014