Nutrition Policy Institute
Nutrition Policy Institute
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Be sure to sign up to receive Research to Action, the Nutrition Policy Institute's news brief providing information on research, policy, news, announcements, events, articles and action items focused on nutrition and healthy communities.



April 25–27, 2018

Nutrition Policy Institute presents at Healthy Eating Research annual meeting

A group of Nutrition Policy Institute staff attends the 12th annual meeting of Healthy Eating Research (HER) in Nashville, Tennessee, to present their research funded by HER. Lorrene Ritchie PhD, RD, director of NPI, presents with California Food Policy Advocates partner Elyse Homel Vitale MPH on “Nutrition in Licensed Child-Care Centers and Homes in California: Compliance With the 2017 CACFP Nutrition Standards and 2010 Healthy Beverages Standards.” Ritchie also presents a poster on “Relationship of School and Community Programs, Policies and Practices with Child BMI: the California Healthy Kids Study.” In a session dedicated to helping grantees understand how research and communicating research results effectively to the right audiences can influence policy debates, NPI Assistant Researcher Lauren Au PhD, RD,  discusses the tools she uses to reach and influence policymakers. Au also presents on “Eating School Meals Daily Is Associated with Healthier Dietary Intakes: The Healthy Communities Study.”  NPI Senior Policy Analyst Christina Hecht PhD presents with Angie Craddock ScD, MPE of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on “Early Adopters: Current Practices and Preliminary Findings in States Adopting School-Based Water Quality Testing Programs” and Hecht also presents with Anisha Patel MD, MSPH, MSHS of Stanford University on “Developing, Validating and Feasibility Testing a Cost-effective Photo-evidence Method to Assess Effectiveness of Access to Drinking Water in Schools.” NPI Director of Policy Ken Hecht LLB moderates the panel on “Innovative Strategies to Promote Water Access and Consumption” and NPI Associate Director of Research Gail Woodward-Lopez MPH, RD moderates the panel on “Schools II: Approaches to Healthy Eating and Wellness in Schools.” Healthy Eating Research is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) that supports research on environmental and policy strategies that have strong potential to promote healthy eating among children, especially among lower-income and racial and ethnic populations at highest risk for obesity. Research is conducted in order to advance RWJF’s efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic and help all children in the United States to grow up at a healthy weight.


April 21, 2018

Pat Crawford honored by UC Berkeley School of Public Health

As part of its 75th anniversary celebration, the UC Berkeley School of Public Health honored Nutrition Policy Institute Senior Director of Research Pat Crawford DrPH, MPH, RD as one of its 75 most influential alumni in recognition of her significant contributions to reduce the epidemic of childhood obesity in California and across the country. Crawford is also an adjunct professor at the School and co-founded and directed the Center for Weight and Health at UC Berkeley for 15 years before joining the Nutrition Policy Institute.


April 20, 2018

USDA study finds positive nutrition outcomes among WIC participants; Lorrene Ritchie and Lauren Au are co-authors

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) was established to safeguard the health of low-income pregnant women and infants who are at nutritional risk. The WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study-2 (WIC ITFPS-2), also known as the “Feeding My Baby” Study, captures data on caregivers and their children over the first 5 years of the child’s life after WIC enrollment to address a series of research questions regarding feeding practices, associations between WIC services and those practices, and the health and nutrition outcomes of children receiving WIC. The study previously produced two reports, the Intentions to Breastfeed Report and the Infant Year Report.  The newest report, the Second-Year Report, focuses on caregivers’ employment, school and child care circumstances, as well as the feeding progressions, dietary intake and weight status of children from birth through around 24 months. Key findings show positive nutrition outcomes among WIC participants. NPI Director Lorrene Ritchie and Assistant Researcher Lauren Au are co-authors of the new study.


April 20, 2018

Christina Hecht presents drinking water workshop at National Child Nutrition Conference

Nutrition Policy Institute Senior Policy Advisor Christina Hecht presents an interactive workshop on “Offering help with 'offer':  Meeting the new Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) water provisions” as part of the National Child Nutrition Conference in San Antonio, Texas. See the schedule.


April 18, 2018

Improving community health: NPI researchers identify promising approaches for healthy eating and active living in low-income communities

12-article supplement about Kaiser Permanente’s Community Health Initiative published today by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine features papers by UC Nutrition Policy Institute researchers Suzanne Rauzon, Gail Woodward-Lopez and Janice Kao. The NPI researchers evaluated Kaiser Permanente’s 10-year place-based initiative focused on policy and environmental supports for healthy eating and active living in high-risk communities. With partners at the Center for Community Health and Evaluation, they developed the “Population Dose” method to evaluate multi-sector, multi-level community health initiatives. Findings of their study confirm that 1) Successful community change requires reaching a broad segment of the populations, strong strategies for change and frequent exposure to those; 2) Community changes in healthy eating and activity were most impactful in school and child care settings—and included a focus on increasing physical activity; and 3) Successful sustainable changes in the food and activity environment in child care settings requires changes in institutional practices in combination with supportive policy. These papers included in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine Supplement are:

The final evaluation report of the Community Health Initiative, completed by Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, Center for Community Health and Evaluation, and University of California, Nutrition Policy Institute, is also available.


April 17, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: Angie Tagtow on the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: The Role of Science, People, & Politics

Angie Tagtow is a strategic advisor with more than 25 years of experience working at local, state, federal, and international levels in agriculture, food and nutrition policy; public health; and food and water systems. In 2014, she was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the Executive Director for the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, where she co-led the development and launch of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Tagtow will talk about the process of developing the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) as well as proposed cuts to the federal nutrition education and food and nutrition programs, touching on the nutrition and health status of the U.S. population, the background of the DGAs, the anticipated process of developing the 2020-2025 DGAs and opportunities for engagement and action.


April 10, 2018

Lauren Au highlights nutrition research in American Society for Nutrition's Farm Bill webinar

Nutrition Policy Institute Assistant Researcher Lauren Au PhD, RD, will speak about nutrition research as part of the American Society for Nutrition’s “The Farm Bill and Beyond: Advocating for Nutrition and Research” webinar. The webinar aims to inform ASN members about the 2018 Farm Bill and its impact on nutrition-related work and research. With drastic cuts proposed for many nutrition research funding agencies, federal support for nutrition research funding, federal nutrition programs and nutrition-related public health initiatives is more important now than ever before. The webinar will provide an overview of the Farm Bill, explore the nutrition-related elements of the Farm Bill, and review the overall importance and impact of advocacy for nutrition and research, as well as provide insight to best practices and approaches to overcome challenges. Au also recently co-authored The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Priorities in the 2018 Farm Bill.


April 5, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: Ruben Canedo on University of California Basic Needs: Impact, updates and future directions

Ruben Canedo, University of California System Basic Needs Co-Chair, will provide an update on the latest systemwide basic needs data, the impact of system and campus efforts and the next phase of these efforts. Canedo is an alumnus of UC Berkeley and a co-founder of the Undocumented Student Program at UC Berkeley. He serves as Director of Strategic Equity Initiatives for UC Berkeley's Division of Equity & Inclusion. This role allows him to serve as both UC Berkeley's Basic Needs Committee Chair (since 2013) and UC System Basic Needs Committee Co-Chair (since 2014). Ruben is also part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's "Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT)," a comprehensive, national and community-based process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism. TRHT seeks to unearth and jettison the deeply held, and often unconscious, beliefs created by racism—the main one being the belief in a “hierarchy of human value.”


April 4, 2018

Lorrene Ritchie speaks at UCLA policy seminar on the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The UCLA MCH Nutrition Leadership Training Program hosts a policy seminar on the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) during National Public Health Week featuring Nutrition Policy Institute Director Lorrene Ritchie PhD, RD and former Executive Director of the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion Angie Tagtow MS, RD. According to the USDA, the 2020-2025 edition of the DGA will take a lifespan approach and include new nutrition guidance for pregnant women, infants, and toddlers up to 2 years of age, and those old than 65 years. Ritchie and Tagtow will highlight the process for developing the Dietary Guidelines; the role science plays in informing the Dietary Guidelines; actors and stakeholders engaged in the development process; and strategies we need to take to preserve and protect a significant investment in Americans’ health. In addition, the latest research on best feeding practices for infants and toddlers will be presented, including results from the WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study.


April 3, 2018

Global Food Institute Fellow Sonya Zhu presents results of capstone project

Sonya Zhu is a Master of Public Health-Master of Public Policy (MPH-MPP) candidate at UC Berkeley and a UC ANR Global Food Initiative (GFI) Student Fellow, based at the Nutrition Policy Institute. She will present the results of her GFI/MPH Maternal & Child Health capstone project. Using data from the Healthy Communities Study (HCS), Zhu examined the association between household food insecurity and child adiposity, dietary intake and diet-related behaviors.


April 2, 2018

Lauren Au co-authors the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' Priorities in the 2018 Farm Bill

Nutrition Policy Institute Assistant Researcher Lauren Au is co-author on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' Priorities in the 2018 Farm Bill. The Academy's guiding principle for farm bill recommendations is a commitment to policies that improve health for everyone, especially those who are most vulnerable to food insecurity.  


March 29, 2018

Lorrene Ritchie looks at the health issues behind the headlines

The March issue of True Health Initiative's Health Between the Headlines newsletter includes Nutrition Policy Institute Director Lorrene Ritchie interpreting and analyzing the media coverage of a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “The study adds to the evidence that the best diet for weight loss is a healthy one—where the focus is on increasing intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, lower fat milk and limiting intake of refined grains, added sugar and highly processed energy-dense foods,” said Ritchie. “You may end up eating a relatively lower total fat or lower total carb diet—either is fine as long as the focus is on healthy foods.” 


March 26, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: Anne Megaro on effectively communicating science with policymakers and government officials

Anne Megaro, UC ANR's Government & Community Relations Director, will talk about the importance of communicating science with non-scientists to affect science-based policymaking and how this can most effectively be accomplished. Megaro earned her B.S. in Animal Science and Management from UC Davis and her Ph.D. in Animal Science from Cornell University. Her doctoral research focused on bioactive fatty acids in milk and their impact on human health. Upon graduation, in an effort to pursue goals of serving as a liaison between scientists, consumers, and government entities on issues involving agriculture, nutrition and food safety, Anne was competitively selected to participate in the AAAS Congressional Fellowship in Washington, D.C. Upon completion of the fellowship, Anne moved back to California and was hired to be the consultant to the California State Senate Committee on Agriculture. In this position, she was responsible for writing clear, comprehensive, and non-partisan analyses for all bills that came before the committee; designing and organizing committee oversight and informational hearings; and collaborating with legislators, stakeholders, government agencies and the public to resolve concerns or issues related to bills or policies. Currently, Megaro guides UC ANR employees in nurturing relationships with government officials and community members.


March 22, 2018

Christina Hecht presents at California Water Policy Conference

Nutrition Policy Institute Senior Policy Advisor Christina Hecht is on the "Lead in Drinking Water: How Safe Is Safe and At What Cost?" panel that is part of the 27th California Water Policy Conference. This year’s theme “Water You Gonna Do?” brings together water leaders representing agricultural, environmental, urban, environmental justice, government, and private sector constituencies and perspectives, as well as interested individuals from the general public, to tackle California's water supply challenges. 


March 22, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: Zubaida Qamar on Recruitment and Retention Strategies - Lessons Learned from the MASALA Study

Dr. Zubaida Qamar, research project manager for the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America (MASALA) Study at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), will provide a brief overview of the various community-based recruitment and retention strategies that have been successfully implemented for the participants of the MASALA Study. She will also describe some of the unique recruitment and retention challenges faced by the MASALA participants residing in and around the Bay Area and the approaches used to overcome these barriers. Such strategies could provide guidance to the recruitment and retention efforts of community-based intervention and disease-prevention studies for underserved groups, moving in the direction of eliminating health disparities.


March 17, 2018

Study shows that eating school meals daily is associated with healthier diets

In a study conducted by the Nutrition Policy Institute based on Healthy Communities Study data and published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, researchers examined the association between the frequency of participating in the National School Lunch and National School Breakfast Programs and children's dietary intakes. The study concluded that eating school breakfast and school lunch every day by U.S. schoolchildren was associated with healthier dietary intakes. The findings suggest nutritional benefits of regularly consuming school meals.


March 16, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: John Reich on funding research to enhance the economic and environmental resilience of our food supply

John Reich PhD, Scientific Program Director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), will speak about FFAR's work and funding opportunities. FFAR brings together leading experts to identify and investigate the researchable questions whose answers have the potential to enhance the economic and environmental resilience of our food supply. FFAR funds research in two broad categories—more productive/sustainable agriculture and better health through food—and seven Challenge Areas including: Food Waste and Loss, Protein Challenge, Water Scarcity, Innovation Pathway to Sustainability, Healthy Soils/Thriving Farms, Urban Food Systems, and Making My Plate Your Plate. 


March 15, 2018

Nutrition Policy Institute study finds that prices for fruits and vegetables may be higher in low-income neighborhoods

Shoppers purchasing fruits and vegetables in stores located in low-income neighborhoods in California may pay more for those fruits and vegetables than shoppers in other neighborhoods, according to a study that examined prices in a large sample of stores throughout the state. Published online in March 2018 in the journal Public Health Nutrition, the study, conducted by researchers at UC’s Nutrition Policy Institute, involved more than 200 large grocery stores, 600 small markets, and 600 convenience stores in 225 low-income neighborhoods (where at least half of the population was at or below 185% of the Federal Poverty Level) and compared observed prices to purchased price data from chain grocery stores in the same counties during the same months.


March 5, 2018

Nutrition Policy Institute partners to launch inaugural California Food Waste Prevention Week

The Nutrition Policy Institute collaborates with Governor Jerry Brown and other California officials and agencies to announce March 5-9, 2018, as Food Waste Prevention Week in the State of California. The unprecedented collaboration grew out of a meeting held in February 2017 in which the Public Health Alliance of Southern California and the UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute jointly convened state agencies delivering nutrition education programming to discuss the impacts of food waste and strategize solutions the agencies could advance together. The planning group identified an opportunity to generate and issue shared messaging during National Nutrition Month, a goal that has evolved into California’s inaugural Food Waste Prevention Week, a coordinated multi-sector effort to raise awareness about the economic, environmental and social impacts of food waste in California. Stay tuned to the Nutrition Policy Institute's Twitter page and UC ANR's Twitter and Facebook pages for shareable resources, tips and ideas during the week, and join the Food Waste Reduction Hero Photo Challenge.


March 2, 2018

Healthy Communities Study paper published in Pediatric Obesity

The national epidemic of childhood obesity is well-recognized, yet the effect of community-based programs and policies on childhood obesity prevention is less well understood. This Healthy Communities Study paper, just published in Pediatric Obesity, examined the longitudinal relationship between the intensity of community-based programs and policies in 130 communities over 10 years and the body mass index of resident children. The study also examined whether these relationships differ by key family or community characteristics. The results indicate that over time, more intense community-based programs and policies are related to lower childhood body mass index, and that there are disparities by sociodemographic characteristics of families and communities, such as child grade, race/ethnicity, family income and parental education, as well as community-level race/ethnicity. Nutrition Policy Institute Director Lorrene Ritchie is an author of the study.


March 1, 2018

Research to Action highlights inaugural California Food Waste Prevention Week

The March 2018 issue of the Nutrition Policy Institute’s Research to Action focuses on the inaugural Food Waste Prevention Week, a weeklong campaign to raise awareness about the economic, environmental and social impacts of food waste in California. This unprecedented collaboration, spearheaded by the Nutrition Policy Institute and the Public Health Alliance of Southern California, is supported by the Governor, the Secretary of Agriculture, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and many other agency leaders in public health, natural resources management, nutrition and other sectors.


March 1, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: Laura Rubin discusses Kaiser Permanente's 10-Year HEAL Zone findings

Laura Rubin MPH will share findings from the last round of Kaiser Permanente’s 10-year Healthy Eating, Active Living (HEAL) Zone Initiative, which ended in June 2017. The initiative funded place-based collaboratives to work across multiple strategies and sectors to increase access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity. Rubin will review the population-level findings, share stories of the successes and lessons learned, and share a short video and reflections from the sites. 


February 28, 2018

Lorrene Ritchie honored by Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior as Gold Author

In recognition of her many manuscripts published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB) during the last ten years, Lorrene Ritchie has been honored as a Gold Author. “We truly appreciate the excellent manuscripts you send,” Susan Pollock, managing editor of JNEB, noted.


February 26, 2018

Lorrene Ritchie and Ken Hecht present at National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference

Lorrene Ritchie will be speaking and Ken Hecht will be moderating a session at the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday, February 26, 2018. The session is on "Brand New Research to Help You Make a Success of New Child and Adult Care Food Programs (CACFP) Meal Patterns" and will provide the most recent research and insight on CACFP programs and provider practices and strategies. The National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference, co-sponsored by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) and Feeding America, and in cooperation with the National CACFP Forum, draws anti-hunger and anti-poverty advocates; federal, state and local government officials; child advocates; representatives of food banks and food rescue organizations; sponsoring organizations and nutrition and anti-obesity groups.


February 22, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: Punam Ohri-Vachaspati examines the role of policy and environment in shaping behavior and health outcomes

Punam Ohri-Vachaspati PhD, MS, RD, professor of nutrition in the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion at Arizona State University (ASU) discusses the role of policy and environment in shaping behavior and health outcomes. Ohri-Vachaspati leads the ASU Food Environment and Policy Research Group. She teaches graduate-level courses and mentors students interested in exploring public health approaches for improving healthy food access, eating behaviors and health outcomes. In 2016-17, Ohri-Vachaspati completed the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellowship, working on health care and nutrition issues in Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) office. Ohri-Vachaspati will be speaking about her NIH-funded research projects.


February 21, 2018

Christina Hecht and Laura Vollmer present at Healthy Beverage Summit

Christina Hecht and Laura Vollmer of the Nutrition Policy Institute and the National Drinking Water Alliance will present an interactive session on "Forging a Path Ahead: Developing a Roadmap to Healthy Beverages" at the Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation's Healthy Beverage Summit. The NB3 Foundation is a national, award-winning Native American nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing Native American childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes. Held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Healthy Beverage Summit brings together community members, organizations and agencies committed to reducing the consumption of sugary beverages among Native American children.


February 15, 2018

Lorrene Ritchie and Wendi Gosliner examine children’s sugary beverage and water consumption; publish findings in American Journal of Preventive Medicine

The Nutrition Policy Institute’s Lorrene Ritchie and Wendi Gosliner are co-authors of "Sugar-Sweetened Beverage and Water Intake in Relation to Diet Quality in U.S. Children" to be published in print in the March 2018 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and available online now. This study examines whether children’s sugary beverage and water intakes are associated with diet quality and total energy intake. The study concluded that children who consume sugary beverages have poorer diet quality and higher total energy intake than children who do not consume sugary beverages. The study recommended that interventions for obesity and chronic disease focus on replacing sugary beverage consumption.


February 15, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: Ronit Ridberg on Wholesome Wave’s Fruit and Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) Program

Ronit Ridberg MS, PhD candidate at the UC Davis School of Nursing’s Nursing Science and Health Care Leadership Program, will share preliminary results from her dissertation research, which uses data from Wholesome Wave’s Fruit and Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) Program and asks “Does a fruit and vegetable prescription program increase household-level food security and children’s produce consumption?”


February 13, 2018

Equitable Food Initiative cites BFI, NPI work in testimony before California Senate

Equitable Food Initiative gave a presentation on creating a harassment-free culture in California to a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee; Senate Select Committee on Women, Work, and Families; and Legislative Women’s Caucus. Nutrition Policy Institute's Ron Strochlic's work with colleagues at the Berkeley Food Institute was cited. Read the research: Improved Farm Labor Conditions. Hear the podcast: Harvesting Equitable Food.


February 12, 2018

Lorrene Ritchie discusses healthy lifestyles for city-dwellers in WalletHub survey

In WalletHub's survey of the healthiest and unhealthiest cities in the United States, Nutrition Policy Institute Director Lorrene Ritchie discusses healthy lifestyles for city-dwellers, emphasizing the importance of having opportunities for healthy eating and active living in your neighborhood. 


February 8, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: Stutee Khandelwal on dietary interventions for clinical practice

Stutee Khandelwal MD, MPH, assistant professor of Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine, UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program, will discuss dietary interventions for clinical practice. This is a special NPI Brown Bag seminar, in partnership with the UC Berkeley School of Public Health-Public Health Nutrition program, and the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program. This talk is oriented to students, medical residents and clinical practitioners, however NPI staff and NPI Brown Bag invitees are welcome and encouraged to join. We recommend attending via Zoom due to limited capacity.


February 7, 2018

Suzanna Martinez speaks at CSU Basic Needs Initiative Conference

Nutrition Policy Institute Assistant Researcher Suzanna Martinez PhD, MS presented a talk on "College food security research: State of the science” on February 7 at the California State University “Addressing Basic Needs in the CSU: Supporting Student Success" conference, held at Sacramento State University. Co-presenting with Martinez was Cal Poly’s Aydin Nazmi. The conference featured a variety of speakers and breakout sessions to help equip campuses with knowledge to successfully develop and deliver basic needs services to their students.


February 1, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: Daniel A. Rodríguez on the role of transportation and land use in obesity

Daniel A. Rodríguez, Chancellor's Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, will discuss his research, which focuses on the relationship between transportation, land development, and the health and environmental impacts that follow. His most recent work focuses on the health and equity impacts of urban transportation policy. A majority of Professor Rodríguez’s work is driven by practical problems and finding solutions for planners and policy-makers. Working within the health, nutrition, economics, engineering, geography and public policy disciplines, he has examined how changes to the physical attributes of the environment, such as the location of bus routes, rail lines, supermarkets and trails, are related to changes in physical activity.


Please see additional news items in our News section

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