Contact: Gideon Hertz
Washington, DC (September 4, 2013) – The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and local health departments across the country support efforts to address obesity through policy changes that improve nutrition and physical activity, and we urge the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to finalize a strong and comprehensive federal menu labeling rule as required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148) as quickly as possible. Today, a letter signed by NACCHO and 65 local health departments was delivered to the White House calling on the Obama Administration to finalize menu labeling regulations without delay.
According to the National Restaurant Association, Americans now spend nearly half of their food dollars on meals prepared outside the home. The increase in eating out has a particular impact on children and fuels the epidemic of childhood obesity. Meanwhile, research shows that Americans substantially underestimate the caloric content of foods offered in restaurants and similar establishments, placing them at risk for obesity and associated health problems like heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. These diseases and conditions are responsible for 75 percent of all health care spending — 96 cents per dollar for Medicare and 83 cents per dollar for Medicaid.
As the FDA works to finalize menu labeling regulations, NACCHO urges the agency to finalize a rule that adheres to the draft menu labeling guidance issued more than three years ago. The FDA's final rule should protect the health of patrons of restaurants, movie theaters, supermarkets, convenience stores, sporting venues, hotels, and other places that serve prepared food. Excluding any of these venues would significantly limit the ability of Americans to make informed decisions about their diet.
"Local health departments are on the front lines of America's battle to reduce our costly obesity epidemic," said NACCHO Executive Director Robert M. Pestronk. "Strong national menu labeling regulations that cover all establishments that sell prepared food will help ensure that all Americans are equipped with the information they need to make nutritious choices and stay healthy. It may even encourage these businesses to offer a wider variety of healthy foods to meet the growing demand."
View NACCHO's letter to the Administration here.
About the National Association of County and City Health Officials
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) represents the nation's 2,800 local governmental health departments. These city, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities.