Nutrition Policy Institute
Nutrition Policy Institute
Nutrition Policy Institute
University of California
Nutrition Policy Institute


COVID-19 Update. The State of California has issued a shelter in place order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The Nutrition Policy Institute is now working remotely. We are still here to answer your questions and address needs during this unprecedented situation. 

We have compiled resources for consumers and UC Cooperative Extension county directors and advisors on federal & state policy action, local food initiatives, food safety & health, grocery stores, farmers markets & shopping, and guidance on safe access to the outdoors despite COVID-19. Please contact us if you have any questions. 

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Research for healthy food, people and places

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.

Read more about our mission and vision, and learn about our impact.


These times illuminate the power of local communities and spotlight the heroes who ensure food ends up on our plates.

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Nutrition Policy Institute researches present at the American Society for Nutrition's first-ever all-virtual conference

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Society for Nutrition will host Nutrition 2020, their annual conference, virtually for the first time ever. The conference will take place online on June 1-4, 2020, and is completely free for attendees, who can join from anywhere in the world. Two Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) researchers will present their latest research as part of the virtual offerings. Marisa Tsai, NPI data analyst, will present two virtual abstracts titled 'Dimensions of School Food Environments and Their Association with Anthropometric and Dietary Outcomes in Children: The Healthy Communities Study' and 'Healthy Default Beverages in Kids' Meals: Evaluating Policy Adherence and Impact in California'. Hannah Thompson, NPI epidemiologist and an affiliated researcher with the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, will present an abstract titled 'The impact of a district-wide chocolate milk removal policy on secondary students' milk purchasing and consumption'. Dr. Thompson's abstract will also have an on-demand virtual presentation available. There is no set time schedule for the virtual abstract presentations. The abstracts will be available through the meeting's online schedule planner and mobile app. Individuals interested in attending Nutrition 2020 can register for free online

Posted on Monday, June 1, 2020 at 10:00 AM

New study from Nutrition Policy Institute affiliated researchers shows higher retail prices for sugar sweetened beverages after excise taxes

Oakland and San Francisco, Calif. became the first large, western U.S. cities to pass excise taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) in November 2016 with the goal of reducing SSB consumption and raising revenues for public health education. Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) affiliated researchers examined how much the excise taxes increased retail pricesforSSBs in Oakland and San Francisco. In their latest study, they found that retail pricesofSSBs significantly increased by approximately the amount of the excise taxes–1 cent per fluid ounce–within four to 10 months of implementation. The prices of beverages that were not taxed–water, milk, and 100% juice–were unaffected. The study was published online on May 21, 2020 in the American Journal of Public Health by lead author Jennifer Falbe with the University of California (UC), Davis Department of Human Ecology. The study was conducted in collaboration with Scott Kaplan of the UC Berkeley Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Alberto Ortega Hinijosa of IMPAQ International, Kristine Madsen of the Berkeley Food Institute and UC Berkeley School of Public health, and Matthew Lee and Nadia Rojas of UC Berkeley School of Public Health.

Posted on Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 11:00 AM

Nutrition Policy Institute study suggests that obesity prevention programs and policies should be implemented in multiple settings to be most effective

Nutrition Policy Institute's director and cooperative extension specialist Lorrene Ritchie and colleagues published a new study suggesting that efforts to prevent childhood obesity may be more effective when community programs and policies are both intensive and are implemented in multiple settings in which children live, learn, and play. This finding has important implications for practitioners, suggesting that to be effective communities need to plan a sufficient number of programs and policies of higher intensity (i.e. longer duration, fuller reach, and greater strength of strategies) among multiple settings where children can be exposed to these interventions. The study was published in Preventing Chronic Disease on May 7, 2020 by lead author Vicki Collie-Akers from the University of Kansas Medical Center along with co-authors Stephen Fawcett, Jerry Schultz, Kandace Fleming and Rebecca Swinburne Romine also from the University of Kansas, as well as Edward Frongillo from the University of South Carolina, and Sonia Arteaga from the National Institutes of Health. Study data were collected in 2013-2015 from 130 communities across the United States as part of the in the cross-sectional Healthy Communities Study, a six-year observational study funded by the National Institutes of Health.


Posted on Thursday, May 14, 2020 at 3:30 PM

New book ‘Bite Back: People Taking on Corporate Food and Winning’ features chapter written by NPI’s Wendi Gosliner and Kristine Madsen

Industrial diets—rich in processed, refined foods and beverages high in fat, salt and sugar and low in nutrient density—have proliferated in the U.S. and across the world. A new book titled Bite Back: People Taking on Corporate Food and Winning, edited by Saru Jayaraman and Kathryn De Master from the University of California, Berkeley, describes how the industrial diet and the systems supporting it emerged and how they retain dominance. The book features a chapter written by Wendi Gosliner, senior researcher and policy advisor at the Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI), in collaboration with Kristine Madsen, associate professor at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and faculty director of the Berkeley Food Institute. Gosliner and Madsen describe how the food industry worked to exploit human biology and physiology by engineering hyper-palatable irresistible food and beverage products, flooding our physical and social environments with these products and cues to consume them, then using their profits to wield political power to reinforce the policies and systems that make these products less expensive and more convenient than healthier alternatives. The chapter also provides examples of how people can collaborate to counteract this dominance. The first edition book was released in May 2020 by University of California Press, and is recommended for college courses on food policy and food, environment & society.


Posted on Wednesday, May 13, 2020 at 5:00 PM

Grantee experiences from the CDFA Healthy Stores Refrigeration Grant Program captured in new NPI report

Wendi Gosliner, Senior Researcher and Policy Advisor at the Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI), with Marisa Tsai and Elsa Esparza, examined experiences among umbrella organization grantees of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Healthy Stores Refrigeration Grant Program. The Healthy Stores Refrigeration Grant Program provides energy-efficient refrigeration units for corner stores in low-income areas to stock California-grown fresh produce, nuts and minimally processed foods. Findings from the participants, who were primarily composed of organizations operating healthy retail programs, shed light on ways in which the program is working well, as well as opportunities for improvement. The full report is available online.

Posted on Wednesday, May 13, 2020 at 3:00 PM

Nutrition Policy Institute study suggests that child care sites participating in CACFP offer more fruits and vegetables to infants

Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) researchers' new study of 297 licensed California child care providers that care for infants suggests that those participating in the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) offered fruits and vegetables more often and sweetened yogurt less often to infants in their care compared to sites that did not participate in the CACFP. Additionally, more CACFP participants compared to those that did not participate in CACFP were in alignment with the current recommendations to not offer cow's milk to infants prior to their first birthday. However, the study also showed that CACFP participants were less likely to usually provide breastmilk to infants, suggesting the need for additional support and recommendations for CACFP participants on breastfeeding resources for providers and families. The study was conducted in 2016 prior to updates to the CACFP nutrition standards which went into effect in October 2017. Results from the study were published online ahead of print on April 29, 2020 in the Maternal and Child Health Journal. The state-wide child care study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Healthy Eating Research Program, and was conducted by NPI's Lorrene Ritchie, Danielle Lee, Klara Gurzo (currently with Stockholm University Department of Public Health Sciences), and Lilly Nhan (currently with University of California, Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health) in collaboration with Elyse Homel Vitale of the Child Care Food Program Roundtable (previously with California Food Policy Advocates) and Sallie Yoshida of Social Policy Research Associates (previously with Sarah Samuels Center for Public Health Research & Evaluation).

Posted on Tuesday, May 5, 2020 at 11:00 AM

New flyers on the safety of eating produce and help buying fresh produce for those in need during COVID-19

In collaboration with the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine Center for Community Health and ideas42, the Nutrition Policy Institute's Wendi Gosliner and Ron Strochlic developed new flyers to help address concerns about produce safety during the coronavirus pandemic. The flyers also include information on what help is available to help people in need buy fresh produce, highlighting CalFresh, school meals, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), food distribution sites, senior meals, and the nutrition incentive program which allows low-income shoppers to match their food dollars on fruits and vegetables at participating farmer's markets. The flyers are available in both English and Spanish.

Posted on Monday, May 4, 2020 at 10:00 AM

Nutrition Policy Institute researchers receive a grant to study the challenges faced by California families with young children on WIC due to COVID-19

Nutrition Policy Institute Director and Cooperative Extension Specialist Lorrene Ritchie received a $100,000 grant from The David & Lucile Packard Foundation to study the challenges faced by California families with young children that participate in the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project is in collaboration with Shannon Whaley, director of research and evaluation at Public Health Foundation Enterprise-WIC. The project will identify barriers that WIC participants in California are experiencing in using WIC food benefits. It will also identify WIC families short-term unmet basic needs, such as food and housing insecurity, as well as access to unemployment benefits, health care, and childcare, while required to remain at home. The project will also identify how California WIC agencies are implementing federal waivers and other modifications to WIC services due to COVID-19 that can be later used to inform WIC. The 12-month project will begin on May 1, 2020 with NPI researcher Nicole Vital as the project manager.  

Posted on Thursday, April 23, 2020 at 12:30 PM

New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collaborative study with NPI researchers identifies factors associated with the intake of drinking water among US high school students

Researchers at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, partnered with researchers at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Stanford University, and Nutrition Policy Institute's Christina Hecht, investigated factors associated with the intake of drinking water among US high school students. Data on 10,698 students was obtained from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a nationally representative sample of US high school students. Because adolescents are the highest consumers of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), and many drink little water, the study sought to understand the associations between plain water intake and youths' demographics, academic grades and other behavioral factors. The understandings gained may inform interventions to increase consumption of water in place of SSBs among US adolescents. Almost half (48.7%) of high school students reported little plain water consumption (only two or fewer times per day) and nearly one-quarter (24.6%) drank plain water less than once per day. Analysis using logistic regression found that factors most strongly associated with low plain water consumption were regular consumption of soda (≥1 time per day) and low consumption of vegetables (report was published in the American Journal of Health Promotion on March 18, 2020. 

Posted on Thursday, April 23, 2020 at 11:30 AM

Nutrition Policy Institute submits comments to USDA in opposition of proposed rule to roll back nutrition standards for meals in child care and school

The Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) submitted on April 22, 2020 comments in strong opposition to the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) “Simplifying Meal Service and Monitoring Requirements in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs” proposed rule. The proposed rule would roll back nutrition standards in both the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. For nearly twenty years, researchers at the NPI and its predecessor organization have engaged in research and evaluation to improve nutrition policy in California and the nation, with special emphasis on the challenges for low-income children in accessing a healthy diet. "Today, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, these challenges have been greatly magnified," commented NPI Policy Director Ken Hecht. "The numbers of unemployed low-income families whose children need nutrition assistance has grown exponentially at the very time when schools, the operating site for most child nutrition programs, are closed. Fortunately, Congress and the USDA have acted quickly to expand and ease access to the essential food programs. Unfortunately, the proposed rules to which these comments are addressed seem largely counterproductive to children's health and well being and unresponsive to the pandemic."

Posted on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 at 5:15 PM

Please see additional news items in our News section

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