NYT: Obesity Rate For Young Children Plummets 43% In A Decade
Federal health authorities on Tuesday reported a stunning 43 percent drop in the obesity rate among 2- to 5-year-old children over the past decade, the first broad decline in an epidemic that often leads to lifelong struggles with weight and higher risks for cancer, heart disease and stroke. The drop emerged from a major federal health survey that experts say is the gold standard for evidence on what Americans weigh. The trend came as a welcome surprise to researchers. New evidence has shown that obesity takes hold young: Children who are overweight or obese between age 3 and 5 are five times as likely to be overweight or obese as adults.
“This is the first time we’ve seen any indication of any significant decrease in any group,” said Cynthia Ogden, a researcher for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the author of the report, which will be published in JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association, on Wednesday. “It was exciting.” Another explanation is that some combination of state, local and federal policies aimed at reducing obesity is starting to have an effect. Michelle Obama has led a push to change young children’s eating and exercise habits and 10,000 child care centers across the country have signed on. The news announcement from the C.D.C. included a remark from Mrs. Obama: “I am thrilled at the progress we’ve made over the last few years in obesity rates among our youngest Americans.”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, introduces JoAnne Hammermaster, from Vienna, Va., who is co-founder and president of Real Food For Kids, and her son Sam Hammermaster, before First Lady Michelle Obama announced proposed guidelines for local school wellness policies
First Lady Michelle Obama recites a “wrap” song written by students from George C. Marshall High School in Falls Church, Va., about healthy eating
First Lady Michelle Obama helps Naeem Khan make history!
This handout photo provided by the Smithsonian shows a dress designed by Indian-American designer Naeem Khan for First Lady Michelle Obama. It was worn to the 2012 Governors Dinner and is now on display at the Smithsonian’s first major exhibit: “Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation” on Indian-American influences in U.S. history. Khan has designed several dresses for Mrs. Obama. The exhibit opens Thursday.
*Ahem* Ladies? You’re welcome
Sam Kass, Executive Director of Let’s Move! and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy speaks to guests before First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announce proposed guidelines for local school wellness policies
On This Day: President Obama signs letters from children backstage after signing executive orders and unveiling new gun control proposals as part of the Administration’s response to the Newtown, Conn., shootings, and other tragedies, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium, Jan. 16, 2013. The children wrote the President letters in the wake of the Newtown tragedy expressing their concerns about gun violence and school safety (Photo by Pete Souza)
Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern):
11:20 EST: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama deliver remarks at an event on expanding college opportunity; South Court Auditorium
Black fathers are more involved in their children's care than white fathers, according to a CDC study http://t.co/F92ooZysgN
AP: Obama Convenes College Leaders On Expanding Access
President Barack Obama is bringing university presidents from across the country together to exact commitments from each to expand access to higher education. The president and first lady Michelle Obama were to greet leaders from more than 100 colleges and universities, plus 40 nonprofit and other groups, in a White House auditorium Thursday. The price of admission: a promise to voluntarily take action to help more low-income students attend college.
The participating schools have agreed to take action in one of four areas: Helping low-income students connect with colleges that can meet their needs and then seeking to ensure that they graduate. Reaching out to elementary, middle and high school students in hopes that by engaging earlier, more students will be encouraged to pursue higher education. Boosting remedial programs so underprepared students will still have opportunities to succeed. Seeking to ensure lower-income students aren’t disadvantaged by lack of access to college advisers and inability to prepare for entrance exams like the SAT and ACT.
The headline numbers for the Affordable Care Act this week have been the 2.2 million Americans who have enrolled in a marketplace plan. But beneath the headlines lurks an even bigger blowout case for Obamacare: the interest is nearly literally off the charts.
By the 28th of last month 4,348,224 applications had been completed through the state and federal-run marketplaces applying for coverage for 7,716,824 individuals. Of those, 5.1 million have been deemed eligible for marketplace plans, and an additional 1.5 million for expanded Medicaid (note that Medicaid enrollees are not necessarily all enrolling through the exchanges, and additional numbers are doing so by directly applying with their states). About 1 million applicants’ status is still pending.
That only about 2.2 million of the over 5 million had chosen marketplace plans by December 28 is an indication of a surge in enrollments that likely continued past that date. That means that as we continue to receive updates and March 31 end of open-enrollment approaches, the numbers are likely to blast past even the huge spike in enrollment in December.
Reuters: UnitedHealth says quarterly profit rose, sees 2014 growth
UnitedHealth Group Inc, the largest U.S. health insurer, on Thursday reported a higher fourth-quarter profit and the addition of 170,000 members, and said 2014 earnings would improve as well. The fourth quarter marked the beginning of sales of new individual plans created under the national healthcare reform law often called Obamacare, coverage which went into effect for the first customers on January 1. UnitedHealth has limited its participation in selling those new plans so far to three states but said in the release that “strength in sales to individuals and smaller employer groups” had contributed to adding new customers in the quarter.
Net income rose to $1.4 billion, or $1.41 per share, from $1.2 billion, or $1.20 per share, a year earlier. The insurer is the first to report its results in a group that also includes WellPoint Inc and Aetna Inc. Employer-based plans and government health programs, as well as a fast-growing health technology division, make up the bulk of UnitedHealth’s annual sales. UnitedHealth also added new members in its government plans for seniors and for the poor, for a total of 45,445,000 medical customers at the end of 2013. The company said that revenue rose to $31.12 billion, up from $28.77 billion a year earlier. Both earnings and revenue came in slightly ahead of analyst expectations
USA Today: White House Jump Starts Health Exchanges With Celebrities
After a month of marketing the federal exchange site as “not broken anymore,” the White House has tossed the ball to Magic Johnson and Alonzo Mourning in new ads touting health insurance to begin running Thursday. Both men offered up their help for free, said Julie Bataille, communications director at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Their ads will spark a full-court press effort to get young people — in particular, young men — to sign up for health insurance before enrollment ends March 31. The ads, part of a $52 million campaign in digital, TV and radio advertising for the first quarter of 2014, will air on ESPN, ABC, TNT and NBAtv during NBA games.
Johnson and Mourning say they discovered their ailments and received treatment because they had health insurance. Johnson was diagnosed with HIV in 1991, but had no idea he was sick until after a full exam from his doctor, something he says wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t insured. Mourning’s cousin, retired Marine Jason Cooper, donated his kidney to Mourning in 2003 after Mourning was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease. “I was at the top of my game,” Mourning says in his ad spot. “I felt invincible, but when I went for my regular team physical, it turned out I had serious kidney disease. It was caught in time to treat, and lucky for me, I was insured.”
Ryan Cooper: Cory Booker Wants To Torpedo A Major Obama Achievement. What’s His Endgame?
American and Iranian negotiators came to an agreement Sunday on a six-month deal to put the Iranian nuclear program on hold in exchange for easing sanctions slightly, in the hopes of reaching a more permanent agreement in the interim. Meanwhile, at last count, 59 senators are supporting a bill that would impose new sanctions—among them Cory Booker, the brand-new New Jersey senator. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto it.
The bill’s supporters insist that they’re simply trying to improve the U.S. negotiating posture. On Twitter, Booker insisted that he favors a peaceful solution, adding, “I’m 4 additional sanctions if current negotiations fail 2 start or fail 2 work.”
A senior Democratic aide told Joshua Hersh and Ryan Grim, “The goal isn’t to disrupt things, it’s to make Iran even more willing to make serious concessions by making them aware of what will happen if they don’t.”
Hunter Walker: What Christie Did To Get A Reputation As A Political Bully Even In College
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is no stranger to accusations of political bullying and backroom dealing like those at the heart of the bridge scandal. TPM has found one of the first times the brash political brawler faced such claims was in the mid-1980s when he was an undergrad at the University of Delaware. There, student newspaper archives show, Christie was accused of establishing a college political machine that rewarded his friends and drove his classmates out of student government. One fellow student even wrote to the paper to decry Christie’s “cronyism” and question the legitimacy of the future governor’s reign.
The accusations have have relevance anew now that the potential 2016 presidential contender is facing the biggest turmoil of his career with the uproar over the George Washington Bridge. Democrats in New Jersey have accused members of Christie’s administration of using their power to close lanes on the bridge, causing a traffic jam in the town of Fort Lee, N.J. as revenge against the mayor there.
Bob Cesca: President Set To Announce NSA Reforms, Greenwald Insists Nothing Will Change
On Friday, President Obama will announce a slate of reforms aimed at the National Security Agency’s surveillance operations, as well as the FISA Court that oversees it. These changes are expected to be closely related to the recommendations published by the administration’s NSA review panel last month. From what we know now, the president will announce the following: 1) He’ll reform bulk collection of metadata by limiting NSA’s access to it. A source told The Washington Post that the president will say that “NSA’s bulk collection of phone data — which includes numbers dialed but not call content — is not something that the government should rely on except in limited circumstances.”
2) He’ll call for privacy measures to foreign intelligence gathering. 3) He’ll create a public civil liberties advocate on the FISA Court as a counter-point to NSA requests. But the president is wisely not planning to unilaterally turn over bulk collection to private sector corporations, as the panel had proposed. Instead, he’s going to leave this in the hands of Congress to decide. At the time, the panel’s recommendations were applauded by a practically giddy Glenn Greenwald and his supporters who believed the findings vindicated the national security leaks by Edward Snowden. But now that the president has decided to implement most of the panel’s top shelf recommendations, including (and to repeat) limiting the bulk metadata program, which is arguably the Greenwald crowd’s primary gripe, the president is evidently not changing anything. Literally nothing, says Greenwald.
Milt Shook: The Republicanization Of The United States: Becoming A “Can Do” Nation Again
The debt is astronomical. At the time Saint Reagan took office, the total amount of debt the United States held was $900 billion. That’s for the entire 193 years since the Constitution was ratified. Again, that was 31% of the constantly increasing GDP at the time. By the time Saint Reagan and the elder Bush were done, in just 12 years, the total debt topped $6 trillion, and it represented 63% of GDP. Think about it; they have been cutting — and continue to cut — money for food inspections, money for OSHA inspections, money for the EPA, money for customs inspections, and money for pretty much anything that makes us safer, at the same time they’re giving oil companies billions of dollars in subsidies and giving the Pentagon money that even it says it doesn’t need for projects it says it doesn’t want.
At the same time, they crow about “free markets” even as everything in most of our stores is made in Asia. and they do everything they can to prevent workers from organizing into unions. Republicans have taken us from being a nation where every worker has a right to unionize to one in which “at-will employment” and “right to work” essentially gives employers the right to do anything they want. The Republicanization of the United States has to stop, and we have to stop it.
A judge on Wednesday upheld subsidies at the heart of President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul, rejecting one of the main legal challenges to the policy by conservatives opposed to an expansion of the federal government. A ruling in favor of a lawsuit brought by individuals and businesses in Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia would have crippled the implementation of the law by making health insurance unaffordable for many people. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman in Washington D.C. wrote that Congress clearly intended to make the subsidies available nationwide under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
“There is evidence throughout the statute of Congress’s desire to ensure broad access to affordable health coverage,” the judge wrote. In 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a requirement of the law, commonly called Obamacare, that most Americans buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty. The subsidies, in the form of tax credits, are available to people with annual incomes of up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or $94,200 for a family of four. The law aims to provide health coverage to millions of uninsured or under-insured Americans by offering private insurance at federally subsidized rates through new online health insurance marketplaces in all 50 states and in Washington, D.C.
President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia at a church service at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, Jan. 16, 2011
President Obama paints a quotation attributed to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr during a day of service in King’s honor at the Browne Education Campus school in Washington, January 16, 2012
First Lady Michelle Obama stands with her daughter Malia as President Obama delivers remarks during a day of service to honor Martin Luther King, Jr, at the Browne Education Campus school in Washington, January 16, 2012
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the Let Freedom Ring Celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., January 16, 2012
President Obama works on his inaugural address with Jon Favreau, Director of Speechwriting, not pictured, in the Oval Office, Jan. 16, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama signs a series of executive orders on gun control surrounded by children who wrote letters to the White House about gun violence. They are, from left, Hinna Zeejah, Taejah Goode, Julia Stokes and Grant Fritz. Jan. 16, 2013