Wellness Weekly: A Snapshot of the Top News in Wellness

Policy and Politics

An overview of relevant policy, regulatory, and political events

In light of a recent report criticizing U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) response to recalls, the agency announced sweeping policy changes for the food industry. In a statement, the FDA recognized that it would take time for the industry to adjust to the new rules. They also noted that there are four particular areas of the Food Safety Modernization Act that would be enforced initially as they continue to work towards long-term solutions. The FDA has released guidance that offers the food industry a road map for how its plans to enforce the new policies.

As Seattle, Washington adjusts to projected soft drink price increases due to a soda tax, groups on both sides in Philadelphia have data detailing the impact after a year of the tax in the city. According to a study conducted for the American Beverage Association, a soft-drink industry trade group, 1,192 jobs have been lost, and sales fell 29% in the city. On the other hand, the city of Philadelphia said that $72 million in revenue sent 2,700 children to school and provided new funding to 11 schools.

In a speech at the American Farm Bureau Federation convention, President Trump discussed a desire to see a trade deal with Canada and Mexico that would benefit both agricultural and manufacturing industries. He did not, however, threaten to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) as he has in the past. Instead, he said that he was reviewing trade deals to ensure that they were “fair and reciprocal.”  


Children and Youth

Keeping the K-12 population fit and eating well

Business Insider article discusses how a relaxation of school-lunch nutrition rules under the Trump Administration has given students access to increasingly unhealthy options, which could cause them to develop unhealthy eating habits. In a statement in November, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue argued that offering healthier options increased food waste and that if students refuse to eat it, offering nutritious meals “doesn’t do any good”.

Philadelphia Public Schools leaders say the district’s breakfast program is leading to double-digit increases in attendance. 44% of students in the district participate in the program, which has led to 17% more students arriving on-time to school 95% or more of the time.

A new study suggests that since changes were made to government food benefits encouraging healthier purchases, the number of severely obese children in poverty has decreased. A study based on those enrolled in Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, found that the number of severely obese children decreased from 2.12 % in 2010 to 1.96% by 2014. The decrease was seen in both boys and girls.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a $1 million investment in Farm-to-School projects across New York. The programs will help educate K-12 students about agriculture, connect them with local farmers, increase locally-grown food on the menu school, and hope to improve student health. The program will benefit 219,471 students in 12 schools across the state. The Governor proposed increasing the investment to $1.5 million for the 2018-2019 budget..

According to Bloomberg Technology, Fitbit may consider developing a child friendly wearable technology focused on health. While parents interest is growing, developers of the devices are receiving backlash for increasing children’s access to technology.


New Insights

Studies, new research, healthy nutrition and habits

A new study found that the neighborhood you live in could increase your risk for heart disease. Researchers found that even after controlling for contributing factors such as wealth, education, jobs, housing, and health, that 4.8% of the heart failure risk was attributable to neighborhood factors like access to healthy food options and places to be physically active. 

New research found that regardless of levels of frailty in senior patients (aged 70-89), physical activity can have a positive effect on patients’ health. Contrary to tendency to be more cautious with frail patients, researchers suggest that clinicians take this into consideration especially due to the health benefits of physical activity.

A new study suggest that even those predisposed to obesity causing genes could benefit from healthier eating habits. Researchers found that a diet with increased fruits and vegetables could lower the risk of obesity and promote weight loss.

New research suggests that women who ate more processed meats are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Researchers found that those who consumed at least 9 grams of meat per day had a 21% greater risk of breast cancer.

A new study found that women who have had gestational diabetes (developed during pregnancy) are more likely to be at risk for diabetes later in life. The risk was greatest within 3 to 6 years of having gestational diabetes.


Innovative Models, Med Tech, and Wearables

Sprouts Farmers Market, a healthy food supermarket announced plans to partner with Instacart to offer home delivery. They will be joining Walmart, Inc and Kroger Co., who have also invested in home delivery companies. Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods has prompted retail grocers to think of innovative ways to remain competitive. 

Metavention Inc., a company developing a medtech treatment for type 2 diabetes raised $65 million in funding in a round led by New Enterprise Associates. The round was also joined by Sanderling Ventures, RK Mellon, Horowitz Group and an unnamed corporate investor. New funding will be put towards clinical trials of its technology.

Fitbit invested $6 million in Sano, a company developing a technology that aims to help patients monitor blood glucose levels continuously. This investment in is line with Fitbits recent focus on becoming more involved in the health industry.


Philanthropic Updates and Grants

The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee awarded $50,000 to the Sanneh Foundation to improve a community center on St. Paul’s east side.  The committee has made nearly 50 grants totalling $4 million thus far.

The Rocky Mountain Health Foundation is awarding $1 million in grants to nonprofits supporting health and social services in Western Colorado.



Nonprofits are working to turn former mining areas in West Virginia into areas for agriculture and forestry-- and creating jobs at the same time.

Street food vendors in NYC are leaving their sidewalk posts, fearing deportation.