Michael F. Jacobson's Blog

January 27, 2012 - 12:41pm

Will pizza and French fries soon disappear from school cafeterias? In a word, no. More on that later. But thanks to new rules issued this week by First Lady Michelle Obama and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, school meals are about to undergo a major nutritional makeover for the better.

Some 32 million school-aged children eat as many as half of their daily calories at schools. But for many years now, too many of those calories weren’t coming from the right sources. School lunches typically served up a lot of fast-food analogues, and the kinds of things that should make up the bulk of a growing kid’s diet—whole grains, fruits and vegetables, beans, fish, low-fat poultry—weren’t at the center of a typical school lunch or breakfast.

Healthy Kids Recipes & Tips:...

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November 18, 2011 - 4:33pm

Really, grocery manufacturers? That’s your highest priority?

Think of all the things that food manufacturers could be doing to improve the nation’s health. They could reduce the amount of salt in packaged foods to help prevent blood pressure from rising. They could make healthier foods for school lunches. And they could use their billions of advertising dollars to encourage children (and their increasingly overweight parents) to eat healthier foods.

But the truth is that the food industry’s single biggest priority is preserving its ability to market junk food to young kids. If you don’t believe me, ask the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

“There is no bigger priority for the food sector,” Scott Faber, Vice President for Federal Affairs for that group, recently told...

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September 7, 2011 - 9:43am
The “Big Gulp.” Free Refills. 20-ounce single servings. 2 liters for 99 cents. Soda vending machines just about everywhere. During the past 40 years or so we’ve opened the spigot of sugary drinks, roughly doubling our consumption. It shows in our bulging waistlines and widening bottoms, but equally so in the health care and economic sectors, where obesity is generating huge, unsustainable costs and reducing workplace productivity. The fattening of America—and its associated diseases—is sickening our children and threatens to cut their life expectancy to less than that of their parents. 

Many factors contribute to our obesity epidemic, and a comprehensive effort to overcome it is absolutely necessary. But there’s more than enough reason to single out sugary drinks as a place to start. We...
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April 15, 2011 (All day)

“April 15” fills many Americans with anxiety as tax returns become due (though this year Uncle Sam has given us until April 18th).  I recently remembered that April 15 has another grim association:  the opening, 56 years ago, of Ray Kroc’s first McDonald’s franchise in Des Plaines, IL.  (Now is as good a time as any to disclose that my organization has hauled Ronald McDonald to court to try to stop the predatory practice of using toys to lure children to disease-promoting Happy Meals.)

With the possible exception of Coca-Cola (...

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April 5, 2011 - 4:09pm

It’s time to fix our broken food system. Over the course of the next six months, we hope to create what will be a huge grassroots mobilization for changing what Americans eat—and what the food industry produces—for the better.

Let me introduce you to Food Day, which will be celebrated on October 24th.

First some background.  Many people know my organization, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, as a leading advocate for better nutrition and food safety.  (Best known for publicizing our famous studies of movie theater popcorn and restaurant food, we’ve also led the fight for nutrition labeling on food packages and restaurant menus...

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