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.



May 16, 2019

UC ANR and UC NPI seek UC Global Food Initiative Fellow

The University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) and the UC Nutrition Policy Institute (UC NPI) seek outstanding UC students to apply for the 2019-20 UC Global Food Initiative Fellowship in Communications/Outreach. The UC ANR GFI Fellowship in Communications/Outreach focuses on community outreach and education, specifically: 1) educating the public through written, visual, and online communications about food policy, nutrition policy, food security, federal food programs, food waste prevention, childhood obesity prevention and other nutrition and food policy topics, and 2) educating the public through written, visual, and online communications about UC ANR’s impact on the above topics. The application deadline is Friday, May 24, 2019. For more information and application instructions, please see the UC ANR GFI Fellow in Communications info sheet.


May 10, 2019

Researchers publish findings on California SNAP-Ed leaders’ experiences planning, implementing and evaluating nutrition promotion and obesity prevention programs

A team of researchers affiliated with the Nutrition Policy Institute, the American Cancer Society and San Francisco State University have just published findings of their study Leaders' Experiences in Planning, Implementing, and Evaluating Complex Public Health Nutrition Interventions. Included in in the May 2019 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, the study found that implementing new, complex interventions to improve diet and activity environments and behaviors is both exciting and challenging for local health department leaders. They expressed a desire for additional resources and capacity-building to facilitate success, particularly related to policy, systems and environmental change programs. In addition, attention to the specific needs of rural counties is needed.


May 9, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Dr. Carl Winter on Pesticides in Food: Residues, risks and reality

Pesticide residues in foods represent an issue of considerable public concern. How much residue is in our foods and are these amounts risky? Dr. Carl Winter, Cooperative Extension food toxicologist and vice chair of the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis, will address these issues and provide answers to several popular consumer questions about food safety. Dr. Winter is a Fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists and the 2012 recipient of the Borlaug Council for Agricultural Science and Technology Communication Award. View the presentation, read the slides and hear Dr. Winter sing about food safety


May 1, 2019

Ron Strochlic collaborates with UC Berkeley Food Institute on immigrant food research

The Nutrition Policy Institute’s Ron Strochlic collaborated with the UC Berkeley Food Institute on research that sheds light on gender dynamics and fear of immigration policies as a barrier to immigrant families participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The research was cited in a fact sheet distributed by Protecting Immigrant Families.


April 24, 2019

Lorrene Ritchie presents on CACFP meal standards at 2019 National Child Nutrition Conference

Nutrition Policy Institute Director Lorrene Ritchie presents on Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) meal standards at the 2019 National Child Nutrition Conference. Her presentation is part of the “State Findings for New Meal Pattern Readiness” workshop on Wednesday, April 24, from 2 to 3 p.m. The workshop will cover the food environment in child care settings across four states (California, Mississippi, Georgia and Connecticut) and discuss progress on implementation of the updated CACFP meal patterns across the four states, as well as supports and barriers to implementing the updated meal patterns.


April 24, 2019

Christina Hecht presents ANR Spotlight Series Webinar on school drinking water

Nutrition Policy Institute Senior Policy Analyst Christina Hecht presents a webinar on school drinking water as part of the ANR Spotlight Series of webinars. The webinar takes place on April 24, at 11 a.m. Titled “School Drinking Water - What we should know and do,” the webinar covers negative effects on health of sugar-sweetened drinks, positive effects of drinking water, health impacts of contaminants in water and what steps you can take to make a difference. Findings from a collaborative study on testing lead in school drinking water, conducted by the Nutrition Policy Institute and the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University, will be discussed. The Zoom webinar can be accessed at; +1 669 900 6833 or +1 646 558 8656; Webinar ID: 751 701 428.


April 3, 2019

Lorrene Ritchie quoted in Washington Post about preferred dietary guidelines for children ages 0 to 2

A recent Washington Post article, What to feed your baby? New dietary guidelines weigh in on pregnant women, infants and young children featured quotes from Nutrition Policy institute Director Lorrene Ritchie. The article focused on the upcoming 2020 version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which for the first time will attempt to provide strong, evidence-based recommendations for pregnant women, infants and young children. “There was a time when we did not view 0 to 2 as a target for obesity prevention,” said Lorrene Ritchie, a nutrition and nutrition policy specialist in Berkeley, Calif. “We felt young children were much better at self-regulating. Obesity is the canary in the coal mine for health. It’s kind of like the climate change of public health.” The article continues: “It is too early to say what specific recommendations the committee will make, but Ritchie would like to see: a preference for breast-feeding over formula and beginning to transition to solid foods at around 6 months, with a focus on a diet that is mostly plant-based, low in sugar, salt and fat. Another shortcoming of current guidelines, she says, is that they give no recommendations for the consumption of water. (Most other countries include water guidelines). Even infants beginning at 6 months should be exposed to water in a cup. Optimally, the only beverages children should drink are milk and water, no other beverages artificially or naturally sweetened,” she said.


March 26, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Ken Hecht on the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act

The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act authorizes all of the federal school meal and child nutrition programs that provide funding to ensure that low-income children have access to healthy and nutritious foods. The child nutrition programs touch millions of children each day and improve educational achievement, economic security, nutrition and health. The Nutrition Policy Institute's Policy Director Ken Hecht leads a discussion on the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act and potential changes to improve the current policy. 


March 21, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Hannah Thompson on the impact of litigation on physical education and student fitness in California

Hannah Thompson PhD, MPH is a research scientist at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and an affiliated researcher at the UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute. Her expertise is in the evaluation of programs related to physical activity and obesity. Her research focuses on identifying best practices to improve health outcomes, with a focus on children in communities at highest risk for inactivity and poor health. In this talk, she will discuss the benefits and limitations of using litigation to change educational practices and improve student health. Litigation has recently been used in California in an attempt to increase physical education (PE) provision in schools; several lawsuits have been filed against 129 school districts found to be noncompliant with state PE law.  Thompson will cover findings from two Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded studies examining 1) districts’ and schools’ perceptions of the lawsuits' impact on PE quantity and quality, as well as the unintended consequences of a litigious approach, and 2) the impact of these lawsuits on students' cardiorespiratory fitness. 


March 13 - 15, 2019

Nutrition Policy Institute presents at Healthy Eating Research annual grantee meeting

Nutrition Policy Institute staff attends the 13th annual grantee meeting organized by Healthy Eating Research (HER) in Detroit, Michigan, to present their research funded by HER. Lorrene Ritchie PhD, RD, director of NPI, presents with NPI Policy Analyst Dani Lee on “Infant Nutrition in California Child Care Centers and Homes Prior to Implementation of New CACFP Standards.” NPI Assistant Researcher Lauren Au PhD, RD,  discusses Diet Quality of U.S. Infants and Toddlers 7-24 Months Old in the WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study-2,” and School Nutrition Successes and Opportunities for Improvement Post Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act: 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.” Hecht also presents with Anisha Patel MD, MSPH, MSHS of Stanford University on “Testing Drinking Water in California Public Schools for Lead and Other Contaminants in the Context of an Obesity-Prevention Strategy.” 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.


March 8, 2019

CalHealthReport article on AB 842 mentions Nutrition Policy Institute research featured in California Agriculture

An article in CalHealthReport on AB 842: Child nutrition: school, childcare and preschool meals, a new law proposed by Assembly members Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) and Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), cites Nutrition Policy Institute research, Communitywide strategies key to preventing childhood obesity, that was featured in California Agriculture. The CalHealth Report article goes on to quote NPI Director Lorrene Ritchie: “The link between healthy, sufficient food and early childhood learning is well established. We have determined that early childhood education is so important for grasping skills early on such as reading, but any child who is hungry can’t pay attention and is at risk for falling behind, and staying behind,” said Ritchie.


March 7, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Suzanne Rauzon on trends in obesity and school prevention interventions

Suzanne Rauzon directs community-based prevention research projects that have a policy and environmental focus, particularly in schools. She is the study director of the Thriving Schools Initiative evaluation for Kaiser Permanente. In this talk, she will look at the recent trends in obesity, a decade of achievements in school interventions in obesity preventions, and what’s next. Suzanne holds degrees and credentials in communication technology, human nutrition and exercise physiology and has a masters in public health from the University of California, Berkeley. She is credentialed with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Academy of Sports Medicine.


March 6, 2019

Christina Hecht quoted in The Guardian about testing school drinking water for lead

A recent article in The Guardian on the lead contamination of drinking water in schools, A hidden scandal: America’s school students exposed to water tainted by toxic lead, includes results from a joint study by the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and the Nutrition Policy Institute, a tap water contamination map from the National Drinking Water Alliance website, and quotes NPI Senior Policy Analyst Christina Hecht: “Still, said Christina Hecht, a researcher with the University of California Nutrition Policy Institute, one of the key takeaways from her study of state lead testing policies is the wide variation in how lead is meant to be tested. The problem, ‘Calls out for federal attention.’” The article goes on to mention the billions of dollars it would take to remove lead from schools, but adds that the investment could save as much as $84 billion annually in health care costs.


March 1, 2019

Nutrition Policy Institute authors lead new study examining the contribution of WIC-eligible foods to the diet of toddlers

A new national observational study examines commonly consumed foods and estimates the proportion of WIC-eligible foods in the diet of 13- and 24-month-old toddlers. The study also assesses nutritional differences by WIC participation status at 24 months. Nutrition Policy Institute authors Lauren Au and colleagues Lorrene Ritchie, Klara Gurzo and Kaela Plank led the study. The results showed that at 13 and 24 months, most (60% and 63%, respectively) of the commonly consumed foods were eligible for purchase as part of the child WIC food package. WIC-eligible foods provided more than 40 percent of calories and close to 50 percent or more of other nutrients, and the contribution of WIC-eligible foods to overall micronutrient intake increased between 13 and 24 months. Children still on WIC at 24 months obtained a larger proportion of calories and most other nutrients from WIC-eligible foods than children no longer on WIC. The study concluded that WIC-eligible foods could contribute to the overall diet of toddlers enrolled in WIC prenatally or in early infancy. Further, there may be additional nutritional benefits of staying on the WIC program through 24 months.


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