Already there are complaints that servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, as recommended for a healthy diet, are more expensive than other less healthful foods.  The Wall Street Journal reported this week on an Arizona State University’s study of price increases due to the three year drought in California.


As part of Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris' initiative as CSG Chairman, the Tennessee Nutrition Caucus was launched during Ag Day on the Hill late last month.  “This is a bi-partisan team of state legislators who understand that one’s quality of life depends on the necessities of life,” said Norris.  Part of the impetus to create the caucus is the current status of Tennessee's children and overall population.  According to Feeding America, 25.1% of Tennessee's children and 17.6% of the state's general population are unaware of where they will find their next meal.

CSG Midwest logo
In the span of just two years (during the 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions), every Midwestern state adopted laws to better protect young people from concussion-related injuries. These so-called “return-to-play” laws had three key components:
• educating parents, coaches and players on the signs and symptoms of concussions;
• removing a player from a game or practice who may have a concussion, and not allowing him or her to return that day; and
• requiring sign-off from a medical professional before the player returns to action.

Gov. Peter Shumlin announced yesterday, according to the Burlington Free Press, restrictions that will make it harder for doctors to prescribe the new FDA approved painkiller Zohydro. His announcement follows last week's ban of the drug by Massachusetts. 

While the federal government and state legislatures are debating how much control to exercise over the new e-cigarette market, poison control centers across the nation are reporting an increase in calls related to the relatively new product. The primary source of concern is the nicotine-based liquid refill for e-cigarettes and accidental access by young children.

Nationally, poison control centers...

The rate of child poverty has only slightly lowered since the 1960's when President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty and currently hovers around 22 percent.  In 2012, 1 in 5 children were identified as poor.  Good nutrition, especially in the early years of a child's life, is vital to create the foundation for future physical and mental health.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 16 million chlidren under age 18 live in homes where they can't consistenly access an adequate amount of healthy and nutritious food.  However, trillions of calories are wasted or lost on a yearly basis.

This week the Colorado and Utah legislatures took the first step toward passing bills to raise the smoking age to 21. Each bill passed its first committee hurdle to final adoption.

Other states with similar pending legislation this year are Hawaii, Massachusetts and New Jersey.  Maryland took up the measure already but rejected it. In Utah the smoking age is already 19, as it is in Alabama, Alaska and New Jersey. Last year New York City raised the smoking age to 21 as did Hawaii...

Vaccination coverage among children in kindergarten, in the 2012-13 school year is approaching the People 2020 goal of 95 percent, but rates among states vary significantly. For instance, MMR vaccine coverage among kindergartners ranged from 85.7 percent in Colorado to more than 99.9 percent in Mississippi. States with lower rates of vaccine coverage have begun to re-examine their laws on parental exemptions and tighten the requirements. California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington are highlighted. 

Oral health is important to the overall health of an individual. Tracking and comparing oral health indicators is an integral component of a state’s public health strategy, as diseases and certain conditions related poor oral health—like tooth decay, periodontal or gum disease, and oral or pharyngeal cancer—are costly issues. Overall, national spending on dental services reached $108 billion in 2011.

The United States Food and Drug Administration released data of 13,000 public school districts to determine the use of local foods and nutritional education under the Farm to School Program. The program was created under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.