Nutrition Policy Institute
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.



October 3, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Nutrition research in a hard-to-reach population with Susana Matias, Cooperative Extension Specialist  from UC Berkeley Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology

Latino farmworkers represent a vulnerable and understudied population, with high rates of chronic disease and limited access to health care. Susana Matias, Cooperative Extension Specialist  from UC Berkeley Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology will present findings from a cohort study of Latino farmworker families in Central California and a randomized trial conducted in Salinas and Oxnard. Her results will elucidate their health risks, as well as promising intervention strategies in this medically undeserved population.


September 10, 2019

Research by Lauren Au of NPI shows association between food insecurity and childhood obesity

One in eight Americans lack access to enough food, and children growing up in food insecure households face many challenges such as behavioral problems, lower academic achievement, disrupted social interactions, and poor health. The prevailing belief is that children living in a food insecure environment leads to undernutrition, and not obesity. However, a study conducted by Lauren Au of NPI showed that children living in food-insecure households had high body mass index, waist circumference, greater odds of being overweight or obese, consumed more sugar from sugar-sweetened beverages, and less frequently ate breakfast and dinner with family compared to children from food-secure households. The study was conducted using data collected in 2013-2015 from 5138 US schoolchildren ages 4-15 years old from 130 communities in the cross-sectional Healthy Communities Study. The study is available online in the Journal of Nutrition.  


September 5, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Advancing equitable food systems through evidence-based policy with Kimberly Libman and Nessia Berner Wong of ChangeLab Solutions

As an organization focused on using law and policy to advance health equity ChangeLab Solutions must balance the evidence-base research for action and the values and expertise of the communities we work with. Kimberly Libman, PhD, MPH and Nessia Berner Wong, MPH from ChangeLab Solutions will join NPI to share examples of this approach in practice at the national, state, and local level; as well as how food system values influence this work.


August 29, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Karen Jetter on a community-based participatory approach to developing affordable, healthy menus 

Karen Jetter PhD, researcher with the UC Agricultural Issues Center,  described the development of a community-based participatory research project with the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria in California in 2010 to develop two weeks of menu that are both affordable and meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Using market basket research techniques, Jetter worked with tribal community members to determine the cost of the menu to be as low as $25 per day for a family of four, or $750 for a 30-day month. At the time, maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for a low-income family of four was $668. In 2015, after adjusting for inflation and increase in food prices, the menu cost $27.95 a day or $838 a month, much higher than the maximum SNAP benefits in 2015 which decreased to $639 a month. This 4.3% decline in SNAP benefits while food prices were increasing makes it hard for the most economically vulnerable to afford a healthy diet. For more information, please see Jetter's presentation slide deck and the Brown Bag recording.


August 21, 2019 

National Drinking Water Alliance provides guidance on public comments for including drinking water in the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Development of the the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, in collaboration by the United States Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, is underway and the public comment period is open. The National Drinking Water Alliance released new guidance for individuals and organizations for public comments to include strong language about drinking water in the 2020 Dietary Guidelines and to add a symbol for water to the MyPlate Graphic. The deadline to submit a comment is May 1, 2020. 


August 8, 2019

National Drinking Water Alliance featured on WebMD

The National Drinking Water Alliance’s advocacy efforts were featured on WebMD, one of America’s most popular health news sources. The outlet’s in-depth article “Not Just One Reason Kids Don't Drink Enough Water,” authored by the Emmy-award winning medical journalist Jennifer Clopton, offers a comprehensive overview of the challenges that parents face in getting their children to drink healthy water instead of choosing sugary drinks or living with chronic under-hydration. Read the entire story online here.


August 1, 2019

NPI study on local health department leaders' experiences planning, implementing and evaluating SNAP-Ed programs is among most-read articles in 2019

NPI research titled the Leaders' Experiences in Planning, Implementing, and Evaluating Complex Public Health Nutrition Interventions, written by current and former NPI researchers Heena Shah, Jaime Adler, Karen Webb and Wendi Gosliner, was among the most-read articles in 2019 in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. Their article received 420 requests during 2019.


August 1, 2019

USDA releases new report co-authored by NPI researchers on feeding practices of infants and toddlers in the WIC program

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study-2 (WIC ITFPS-2) 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 three reports, the Intentions to Breastfeed ReportInfant Year Report, and Second-Year Report. The newest report, Third-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 36 months. NPI Director Lorrene Ritchie and Associate Researcher Lauren Au are co-authors of the new study.


July 26, 2019

Over 1,000 people attend NPI-sponsored 2019 Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference in Anaheim

Real progress has been made in tackling the epidemic of childhood obesity since the first California Childhood Obesity Conference was held 20 years ago, but there is more work to be done. Three news stories from the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources chronicle NPI's involvement at the conference, where 1,025 public health, nutrition education, research, and other professionals gathered.  


July 25, 2019

NPI research informs BASIC Act – national policy to help college students afford basic needs

U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) introduced on July 23, 2019 the Basic Assistance for Students In College (BASIC) Act to ensure that college students—particularly those receiving Pell Grants or attending a community college or minority-serving institution—are able to afford basic, day-to-day necessities. This legislation would authorize a new discretionary grant program for colleges and universities to set up resources for students that need help in accessing basic needs (i.e. housing, food, affordable childcare). Early this year, several studies on the food insecurity experience among University of California students conducted by NPI researchers – Suzanna Martinez, Lorrene Ritchie, and Karen Webb – were included in the Government Accountability Office report suggesting that more than 30% of college students may face food insecurity on a national scale.


July 25, 2019

National Drinking Water Alliance releases new healthy hydration fact sheets

New quick-read versions of the National Drinking Water Alliance “Healthy Hydration” fact sheet are now available in English and Spanish. The factsheets highlight key reasons why water is a healthy choice for thirst-quenching. Access and download them both here. The National Drinking Water Alliance is coordinated by the Nutrition Policy Institute.


July 17, 2019 

Catalyst of change: Pat Crawford career retrospective

Nutrition Policy Institute's recently retired Pat Crawford, former senior director of research and UC Cooperative Extension specialist, is highlighted in this University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resource (UC ANR) career retrospective. The article chronicles Dr. Crawford's efforts to improve policies to support improved child nutrition and advance nutrition education and communication in California and beyond. Dr. Crawford's career retrospective was featured in Morning Ag Clips


July 16, 2019

Dr. Suzanna Martinez presents at University of California Regents Subcomittee on Student Basic Needs

Dr. Suzanna Martinez, NPI Affiliate Researcher and Assistant Professor in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UCSF, spoke to a UC Regents Subcommittee on Student Basic Needs on July 16, 2019.  She presented findings from a series of focus groups with UC students that were conducted to refine survey questions on student housing insecurity. Building on the food insecurity work that she and Dr. Lorrene Ritchie began in 2015, this study, which was funded by the UC Global Food Initiative, aims to enable UC to collect data on the potential impacts on students of the high cost of housing in California.


July 15–18, 2019

10th Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference to take place in Anaheim, California

The 10th Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference will take place July 15 to 18, 2019, at the Anaheim Marriott Hotel in Anaheim, California. The Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference is the nation’s largest, most influential collaboration of professionals dedicated to combating pediatric obesity/overweight. Nearly 2,000 attendees from across the country are expected to attend to share and discuss emerging research, best practices, community-based efforts and effective policy strategies that promote and sustain healthy eating and physical activity practices for children, adolescents and their families. This year’s theme is Beyond Obesity: Tackling Root Causes. Keynote speakers, presenters and panel moderators from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources / Nutrition Policy Institute include Glenda Humiston, Lorrene Ritchie, Pat Crawford, Christina Hecht, Gail Woodward-Lopez, Lauren Au, Hannah Thompson, Laura Vollmer, Sridharshi Hewawitharana, Carolyn Rider and Danielle Lee. Conference hosts include the California Department of Public Health, the California Department of Education, Nutrition Policy Institute of the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, The California Endowment and Kaiser Permanente.


July 11, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Lori Dorfman on the digital frontiers of junk food marketing that targets kids of color

Lori Dorfman DrPH, director of Berkeley Media Studies Group, a program of the Public Health Institute, described how the era of Big Data and mobile marketing has transformed the food marketing landscape that ensnares children and youth today. All children deserve the opportunity to be healthy and thrive, but an all-too-common marketing practice in which food and beverage companies target kids of color with ads for junk food and soda is compromising the health of young African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans. In her presentation, Dr. Dorfman outlined the current landscape of junk food and sugary drink targeted marketing, and shared concrete actions that kids, parents, advocates, researchers, and policymakers can take to help hold industry accountable. A PowerPoint slide deck, developed by Berkeley Media Studies Group with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is available for free download on their website, and Dr. Dorfman encourages advocates and others to adapt and use the presentation to help raise the visibility of targeted marketing as a health equity issue. For more information, please see the following publications: Health equity & junk food marketing: Talking about targeting kids of color and Big Data and the transformation of food and beverage marketing: undermining efforts to reduce obesity?


July 8, 2019

NPI's UC Global Food Initiative fellow Melanie Colvin presents on housing and food insecurity in California at 2019 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference

Melanie Colvin, MPH, Nutrition Policy Institute graduate student researcher and University of California Global Food Initiative (UC GFI) fellow, presented her work on addressing food insecurity and housing insecurity in California at the 2019 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference in Santa Barbara, CA on Monday, July 8. Her presentation was part of a pre-conference workshop for UC GFI fellows. Colvin's GFI fellowship focused on documenting organizations in California that address both housing insecurity and food insecurity simultaneously. A final report with policy and program recommendations is forthcoming.


June 25, 2019

Nutrition Policy Institute video highlights policy wins

The Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) envisions a world in which healthy food, beverages and opportunities for physical activity are accessible, affordable, equitable and sustainable for everyone. NPI's mission is to conduct and translate policy-relevant research to transform environments for healthy children, families and communities. Our objectives are to: improve federal nutrition programs and policies; pursue structural changes in food systems; and improve physical and social environments. NPI conducts research that improves the nutrition, health and well-being of people and communities across the state and the nation. Watch our new video to learn how we are mobilizing research to tackle the critical nutrition policy issues of our time.


June 25, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Mahasin Mujahid and Moira O'Neill on Rethinking School Lunch Oakland

Since 2009 more than 70 percent of Oakland Unified School District’s (OUSD) students have qualified for free or reduced-price lunch—well above the national average. Recognizing that persistent risk of hunger and poor health outcomes impact educational outcomes, OUSD with the Center for Ecoliteracy, launched Rethinking School Lunch Oakland (RSLO). RSLO is comprehensive systems change approach to school meal reform that requires, among other things, infrastructure and equipment investment to improve the quality of school food. Mahasin Mujahid, Associate Professor and Chancellor's Professor of Public Health at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, and Moira O'Neill, Associate Research Scientist in the Institute of Urban and Regional Development, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment at UC Berkeley, lead a discussion on RSLO, its implementation and its impact on student eating, particularly in schools where food insecurity appears prevalent.


June 24, 2019

Suzanna Martinez and Lorrene Ritchie publish new study showing the impact of food insecurity on health outcomes among college students

The Nutrition Policy Institute's affiliated researcher, Suzanna Martinez, and NPI director, Lorrene D. Ritchie, published a new study in the journal Nutrients showing the relationship between food insecurity and health-related outcomes in college students. Data collected from over 8,700 graduate and undergraduate students at the University of California 10 campus system in 2015 show that students who experienced food insecurity had decreased sleep and decreased physical activity which was related to increased body mass index and poor health as measured by student self-report. Students experiencing food insecurity also had fewer daily servings of fruits and vegetables which was related to poor health. Findings from this study highlight the importance of food security for a healthy college experience. Martinez and colleagues published previous work on college student food insecurity, including a 2017 report on University of California student food and housing security, a 2018 study exploring the psychosocial effects of food insecurity in college students, a 2018 study exploring the relationship between college student food insecurity and lower academic performance, a 2017 study identifying factors associated with college student food insecurity, and another 2017 study identifying ways in which universities can work to address student food insecurity. 


June 18, 2019

Evan Talmage, Sara Brizendine and Nutrition Policy Institute restaurant kids meal healthy default beverage research team members win UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) Award

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) Award Program recognizes and rewards outstanding staff individual and/or team performance. Recipients of the 2019 STAR Award include Nutrition Policy Institute’s researcher Evan Talmage, contracts and grants manager Sara Brizendine, and the restaurant kids meal healthy default beverage research team members including Sara Brizendine, Temika Green, Phoebe Harpainter, Sridarshi Hewawitharana, Danielle Lee, Meirong Liao, Rochelle Mandel, Anna Martin, Kaela Plank and Evan Talmage. Recipients of the STAR Award were recognized by ANR leadership at a special event in Davis, Calif. on June 18.


June 8–10, 2019

Nutrition Policy Institute researchers present at Nutrition 2019 Conference

Nutrition Policy Institute researchers will present on several topics at the American Society for Nutrition’s 2019 Annual Meeting (#Nutrition2019) in Baltimore, Maryland.

  • Kaela Plank, NPI evaluation specialist, presents on Saturday, June 8 from 8 to 10 a.m. in a session on Food Security, Nutrition and Health on Household Food Insecurity Is Associated with Higher Adiposity Among U.S. Schoolchildren Age 10-15 Years.  
  • Danielle Lee, NPI policy analyst, presents on Sunday, June 9 from 12:45 to 1:45 p.m. on an Evaluation of an Interactive, Online Training for Child Care Providers on Healthy Beverages for Young Children.
  • Sridharshi Hewawitharana, NPI data analyst, presents on Sunday, June 9 from 1:45 to 2:45 p.m. on Utilization of the California Nutrition Incentive Program Among CalFresh Shoppers and Its Association with Food Security Status.
  • Kaela Plank also presents on Monday, June 10 from 1:45 to 2:45 p.m. on Duration of WIC Participation Is Associated with Higher Dietary Quality and 24 Months.


June 5, 2019

Student fellowship established to honor retiring Pat Crawford

The Nutrition Policy Institute has established a student fellowship to honor Patricia Crawford, an inspiring leader and mentor whose pioneering accomplishments have helped to safeguard abundant and healthy food for all and promote healthy people and communities. Crawford was honored as one of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health’s 75 most influential alumni. She recently retired from NPI and to honor her immense and thought-leading contributions, NPI has set up a fellowship fund in her honor to train the next generation of students on nutrition research and its policy impacts. Help us honor Pat by donating to the student fellowship fund.


June 5, 2019

Lauren Au presents on school nutrition, WIC infant and toddler feeding practices, at international conference in Prague

Nutrition Policy Institute Assistant Researcher Lauren Au will give two presentations at the International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity during the group's annual conference in Prague. Au's talks include "School Nutrition Successes and Opportunities for Improvement Post Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act: The Healthy Communities Study" and "Diet Quality of U.S. Infants and Toddlers 7-24 Months Old in the WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study-2."  


June 2, 2019

In memoriam: Leann Birch

We remember Leann L. Birch, whose research led to new insights on childhood nutrition and obesity. Her pioneering research brought developmental psychology to the study of nutritional issues involving young children, moving the science of nutrition beyond a focus on foods and nutrients to consider why children eat and how eating habits are developed early in life. She was the chairwoman of several committees on childhood obesity and published more than 200 scholarly articles. Her research findings repeatedly made news over the years.


May 31, 2019

Nutrition Policy Institute CalFresh fact sheet for Monterey County cited in Salinas Californian

The Nutrition Policy Institute CalFresh fact sheet for Monterey County was cited in The Salinas Californian, in an article about CalFresh benefits becoming newly available to people who receive Supplemental Security Income/State Supplemental Payments (SSI/SSP) benefits. The article noted:  "About 45,000 Monterey County residents rely on CalFresh and more than $72 million is directly returned annually into the county's economy, according to the Nutrition Policy Institute. In total, over one in 10 residents use CalFresh monthly, per U.S. Census data."  


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.


Please see additional news items in our News section

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