• The Susan G. Komen Foundation, a private breast cancer advocacy group, caved to political pressure from anti-choice groups and pulled grant funding from Planned Parenthood that went toward providing breast cancer screenings, education, and referrals for low-income women. Despite the fact that the type of grant funding was restricted (meaning it could only be used for its intended purposes, e.g. screenings), the Komen Foundation pulled nearly $700,000 in funding in response to “the fear that an investigation of Planned Parenthood by Representative Cliff Stearns, Republican of Florida, would damage Komen’s credibility with donors.” In the past 48 hours, outraged citizens have since made up the amount in donations, including a dollar-for-dollar match up to $250,000 from NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. [New York Times]
Update: The Susan G. Komen Foundation has reversed its decision and will continue to allow Planned Parenthood to receive grant funding! Of the reversal, they stated, “amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process…We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics – anyone’s politics.” Read the Komen statement here.
  • An op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times by two professors at Cornell University calls for schools to promote nutritious choices for kids, rather than force them on students. In response to the USDA’s recent revisions to the federal school lunch program, which will require fruits and vegetables to be offered at every meal and restricts some of the unhealthy menu options, they argue that forced adoption of healthy options will produce food waste: “trying to teach students to eat more healthful foods by removing other choices can backfire.” The professors instead encourage schools to “make the more healthful choice the more attractive choice, not the only choice” through simple environmental changes, like more aesthetically pleasing fruit displays, that have proven a effect on kids’ behaviors. They are responsible for the Smarter Lunchrooms Initiative. [LA Times]
  • A survey conducted by Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters program, an anti-hunger organization, indicates the low- and middle-income families are cooking more meals and eating healthier than previously thought. The belief that lower income families lack access to healthy foods and tend to rely on fast food meals rather than home cooking  is apparently a misconception. This study showed that “the lower a family’s income, the more they cooked from scratch” with 78% of families regularly (4-5 times per week) cooking meals at home, and 50% reporting that they ate healthily. Access to and cost of healthy foods posed barriers to eating healthily, but for only a small portion of the sample. [Mark Bittman, NYT]
  • A position paper published in Nature argues that consumption of sugar, not obesity, is to blame for rising rates of non-communicable chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancers. Arguing that excessive sugar consumption is the root cause of many of our health problems, the authors call for government regulation of sugar through taxation, sales bans, and “removing sugar from the FDA’s ‘generally regarded as safe’ (GRAS) list of ingredients.” Although these measures are extreme, given that Americans consume an average of more than 600 calories per day from sugar, they may have some merit. [Nature via Fooducate] [see picture above from Nature]