Chris unveils her plan to combat childhood obesity and create a healthier NYC

Today, Christine Quinn laid out a series of children’s health proposals that she would implement as Mayor, including a proposal to establish new nutritional standards for meals marketed specifically to children at restaurants and food establishments that are required to post calorie counts. The plan also includes ensuring physical education is available in all schools, and doubling the number of schools with access to school-based health clinics to give greater primary care access to underserved communities. Additionally, to ensure hunger doesn’t interfere with a student’s ability to succeed, Quinn committed to dramatically expanding access to free in-school meals. Quinn laid out the proposals this afternoon in front of the Union Square Greenmarket.  

“The best way to ensure we have healthy adults is by developing healthy kids and while we have been making great strides in New York we still have a long way to go,” said Speaker Christine Quinn. “As mayor, I want to prioritize children’s health and instill, at a much younger age, healthy behavior.”

As part of her focus on childhood health, Quinn said she would put in place nutritional standards for meals that are marketed to children with names such as ‘kids meals’ or ‘happy meals.’ Her proposal would require the City’s Department of Health to develop baseline nutritional standards that would be mandatory for all restaurants and other food establishments that are already required by law to post calorie counts, to comply with if they were to market meals to children. 

Quinn suggested that these standards could track with USDA regulations for school meals served in elementary schools.  Those regulations limit meals to no more than 650 calories, 7 grams of saturated fat, and 740 milligrams of sodium.  The meals available on “Kid’s Menus” at many popular restaurant chains significantly exceed those standards (see attached graph for examples).

Other elements of Quinn’s plan include:

Doubling the number of public schools with school-based health centers by 2018

Quinn plans to double the number of schools with access to a full-service school-based health center, prioritizing schools in high-poverty communities that have limited access to health care services. These types of health centers have been shown to decrease absenteeism, promote academic achievement, and reduce teen pregnancies.

Providing physical education in every school

As mayor, Quinn will require that all new schools be constructed with physical education space, help existing schools forge creative partnerships for providing PE instruction, and add physical education to school report cards to make it a greater priority. These steps will both improve academic performance and combat childhood obesity.

Ensuring that hunger does not interfere with learning in schools

Under Quinn’s plan, several steps would be taken towards ensuring every child who needs it has access to free meals essential to their wellbeing, and without stigma. Quinn committed to: (1) making breakfast in the classroom mandatory in all low-income schools and encouraging all schools to adopt the program citywide; (2) providing free lunch for all students in high-need districts; (3) launching a pilot of the federally-funded school dinner program, targeting low-income students participating in afterschool programming; and (4) expanding the number of schools offering take-home weekend meals to students receiving free school food.

Enabling doctors to prescribe home visits for children with asthma

Community based asthma intervention programs that send health advocates into the home have been found to dramatically reduce emergency room visits and hospitalizations, keep students in school, and allow parents to stay at work. As Mayor, Quinn plans to develop a program that enables doctors to provide children with a ‘prescription’ for a visiting asthma prevention program. The program would target neighborhoods with the highest asthma levels, help eligible families remove asthma triggers in the home, and teach children to follow a treatment regimen.

These child health proposals were released as part of a package of health ideas through the Quinn IDEAS App. The IDEAS App can be downloaded at both the iTunes and Google Play stores, or can be accessed on the campaign website at quinnfornewyork.com. The App will be updated regularly as the campaign releases more ideas to improve the lives of middle and working class New Yorkers.