Nutrition Policy Institute
Nutrition Policy Institute
Nutrition Policy Institute
University of California
Nutrition Policy Institute
NPI Vision Statement

News Brief Sign-Up

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.



August 4, 2017

Suzanna Martinez attends summer institute at NYU’s Langone Medical Center

Suzanna Martinez MS, PhD, just completed a training program in Behavioral Sleep and Medicine at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. The training program, which is part of the Programs to Increase Diversity Among Individuals Engaged in Health-Related Research (PRIDE), aims to increase the number of scientists and research-oriented faculty who are from backgrounds currently under-represented in the biomedical sciences by preparing them to successfully compete for external funding for scientific research in heart, lung, blood and sleep disorders.  Scholars participate in a guided Mock Study Section and review proposals of their peers using NIH review criteria. Successful completion of this institute establishes a network of 36 trained minority faculty applying proven behavioral cardiovascular disease risk reduction models to eliminate health disparities.


July 23, 2017

Lauren Au presents at Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior conference

Lauren Au, PhD, RD, presented as part of the e-Learning and Nutrition Education for Lower-Income Audiences panel at the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior conference in Washington D.C. The panel raised awareness and demonstrated innovative eLearning delivery nutrition education programs especially tailored to lower-income audiences, such as those eligible for WIC, EFNEP, and SNAP-Ed. Au shared NPI’s research on WIC from two papers: If You Build It They Will Come: Satisfaction and Utilization of WIC Participants with Online and Traditional In-Person Nutrition Education, and Evaluation of Online and In-Person Nutrition Education Related to Salt Knowledge and Behaviors among Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children Participants.


July 18, 2017

Blog: From WIC to SNAP: Benefits Go Farther with Behavioral Science

ideas42 has just published a blog post discussing efforts to use behavioral science to maximize the impact of public programs, helping benefits reach more people who need them. ideas 42 and the Nutrition Policy Institute collaborated on a report, "Using Behavioral Science to Improve the WIC Experience," that was published in May.


July 5, 2017

Lorrene Ritchie co-authors Healthy Communities Study

Lorrene Ritchie is a co-author of Community Policies and Programs to Prevent Obesity and Child Adiposity, also known as the Healthy Communities Study. The observational study assessed the relationships of characteristics and intensity of community policies and programs with adiposity, diet and physical activity in children, taking advantage of variation across the U.S. in community actions to prevent child obesity. The study provides plausible evidence that comprehensive community policies and programs targeting a greater number of distinct physical activity and nutrition behaviors were associated with lower child adiposity.


June 28, 2017

Second issue of Research to Action focuses on the importance of the WIC program

The second issue of the Nutrition Policy Institute’s Research to Action news brief focuses on the importance of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (known as WIC). The issue highlights the public health success of the WIC program and provides a wealth of links to key evidence-based research about the program. Future editions of Research to Action  will be sent several times per year. Please sign up for the Research to Action mailing list, and please share Research to Action with colleagues who would be interested in receiving it.


June 25-26, 2017

Lauren Au presents public policy workshop in Washington, D.C.

Lauren Au spoke to more than 350 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics members at the Public Policy Workshop in Washington, D.C. on June 25-26 about the role of nutrition education (SNAP-Ed and EFNEP) in the Farm Bill. Au also participated in Hill visits to California Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein and California Representative Barbara Lee to provide information on the value of nutrition in preventing illness and chronic disease. The Public Policy Workshop focuses on critical policies that impact the health of the nation and the dietetics profession. Attendees receive top notch leadership and communications training. At the end of the Public Policy Workshop, participants put their knowledge into action when they visit Capitol Hill and meet with members of Congress.


June 21-22, 2017

Christina Hecht speaks at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine

National Drinking Water Alliance Director and NPI Senior Policy Analyst Christina Hecht was invited to speak on June 21-22, 2017 at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine about the importance of drinking water for children aged 0-5.


June 13, 2017

Christina Hecht speaks to governors association about tap water safety

National Drinking Water Alliance Director and NPI Senior Policy Analyst Christina Hecht was invited to speak about tap water safety on June 13, 2017 at the National Governors’ Association Center for Best Practices.


June 12, 2017

Monetary incentives for promoting healthy food purchases are effective, NPI report finds

The Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Research and Evaluation Unit of the Nutrition Policy Institute has made available its recent report prepared for the California Department of Public Health Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Branch. The report, titled Review of the Evidence: Health Promotion Strategies for Retail Food Shopping Venues, examined the evidence and found that, among health promotion strategies, monetary incentives for promoting healthy food purchases and improving diet are effective. The report also found that opening new supermarkets in underserved areas is ineffective because low-income households' shopping behaviors are most influenced by prices and, as a result, people shop at supermarkets, regardless of having to travel distances to do so. Evidence on other retail food shopping intervention strategies is inconclusive, the report notes.


June 12, 2017

UC ANR/NPI Seeks UC Global Food Initiative Fellow

The University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources/Nutrition Policy Institute are seeking outstanding students to apply for the 2017-18 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 nutrition policy, food security, federal food programs, food waste reuse, childhood obesity prevention and other nutrition and food policy issues, 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, June 16, 2017. For more information and application instructions, please see the UC ANR GFI Fellow in Communications flyer


May 26, 2017

NPI-penned op-ed in Washington Post states the dangers of caffeine in energy drinks and the policy implications

The Nutrition Policy Institute's Pat Crawford and Wendi Gosliner have penned an op-ed urging changes in public policy to address the threat of caffeine in energy drinks, after the death of a teen last month from over-consumption of caffeine. The op-ed appears in the Washington Post, and states: "The teen wasn’t the first to pay a terrible price for drinking popular beverages that are commonly (but mistakenly) considered safe, but he should be the last. The government must take steps to reduce caffeine levels allowed in energy drinks; to clearly provide recommendations on safe caffeine consumption for children and adolescents; to ban the marketing of energy drinks to young people of all ages; and to help educate the public on the health risks of high caffeine intake." As the op-ed notes, the problem is serious. Between 2005 and 2011, "energy drink-related emergency-room visits rose from 1,494 to 20,783." Yet, there is currently no legal requirement to include information about caffeine content on product labels.


May 26, 2017

28 more scientists support July 2018 update for Nutrition Facts label

A letter voicing support for the July 2018 compliance date for the updated Nutrition Facts label has now been signed by an additional 28 scientists, bring the total to 71 scientists and researchers, including NPI's Director Lorrene Ritchie, urging no delay in the implementation of the updated Nutrition Facts label. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has also created an infographic on Why We Need Updated Nutrition Facts by July 2018.


May 18, 2017

Scientists, researchers call on Price, Gottlieb to keep Nutrition Facts deadline

More than 40 scientists and researchers from across the country, including Nutrition Policy Institute Director and UC Cooperative Extension Specialist Lorrene Ritchie, have called on Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to maintain the July 2018 compliance date for the updated Nutrition Facts label. "Americans consume added sugars, especially sugar-sweetened beverages, in amounts that are linked to a higher risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, tooth decay, and nutrient-poor diets," the scientists and researchers wrote to Price and Gottlieb. "The new Nutrition Facts labels would also tell consumers how much of a day’s worth of added sugars a serving of food contains." The updated label is important, they wrote, because it will better allow consumers to follow the advice of leading health authorities, including the government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans: "Without those labels, consumers cannot follow advice from the government’s own Dietary Guidelines for Americans, American Heart Association, World Health Organization and other health authorities to cut back on added sugars."


May 2017

Nutrition Policy Institute and ideas42 collaborate on paper examining how to improve the WIC experience

The Nutrition Policy Institute and ideas42 have collaborated on a publication that is a compilation of literature review, field observations, and interviews with WIC participants and staff in San Jose, California, that lays out the key behavioral barriers affecting families’ choices and actions throughout the "WIC lifecycle." The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (better known as WIC) serves about 8 million people in the U.S. every month and has been shown to improve the health and welfare of low-income families. Despite the program’s clear benefits, not all eligible families enroll, and many drop out of the program before their eligibility lapses. The NPI-ideas 42 report, "Using Behavioral Science to Improve the WIC Experience," provides an in-depth look at the psychological features of these barriers and offers a range of potential designs aimed at optimizing the experience of engaging with the program. The paper's authors are Dani Grodsky, Antonia Violante, and Anthony Barrows from ideas42 and Wendi Gosliner from the Nutrition Policy Institute.  


April 28, 2017

Nutrition Policy Institute launches Research to Action news brief

The Nutrition Policy Institute has launched a news brief called Research to Action. The publication will provide information on research, policy, news, announcements, events, articles and action items focused on nutrition and healthy communities. The first issue looks at the work of the National Drinking Water Alliance (NDWA). NPI is the “hub” for NDWA, which engages in and coordinates evidence-based efforts going on all over the country to improve tap water safety and access, especially for children, and to provide drinking water education and promotion. The NDWA website is a “go-to” resource for information on drinking water. Future editions of Research to Action will be sent several times per year. Please sign up for the Research to Action mailing list, and please share Research to Action with colleagues who would be interested in receiving it.


April 21, 2017

Nutrition Policy Institute presents at Healthy Eating Research annual meeting

A group of Nutrition Policy Institute staff attended the 11th annual meeting of Healthy Eating Research (HER) in St. Paul, Minnesota, to present on their research funded by HER. NPI was fortunate to have received three grants from HER, which has a very competitive grant process. Lorrene Ritchie PhD, RD, director of NPI, presented with California Food Policy Advocates partner Elyse Homel Vitale on child-care nutrition in California. Christina Hecht PhD, senior policy advisor, presented with UCSF partner Anisha Patel, MD, MSPH, MSHS, on a photo-evidence method to examine effective drinking water access in schools; Hecht also led a roundtable discussion on messaging about tap water safety. Lauren Au PhD, RD, presented on school wellness committees and children’s weight status. Also representing NPI were Pat Crawford, senior director of research, nutrition specialist and adjunct professor, and Ken Hecht, director of policy. 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 supported 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 18, 2017

New NPI study identifies differences in weight status among schoolchildren based on location along the urban–rural continuum

A new Nutrition Policy Institute study published in the International Journal of Rural and Remote Health explored differences in overweight and obesity based on gradations along the urban–rural continuum. An observational study was conducted using 2010-2011 FITNESSGRAM data from 5th, 7th and 9th grade students in public schools in 42 California counties. The findings indicate that students attending schools in suburban, especially larger suburban, areas appear to have lower prevalence of obesity than their peers at schools in other geographic areas. Further research is needed to understand the factors associated with differences in weight status between urban, suburban, town and rural areas.



Please see additional news items in our News section


You can now contribute to the work of NPI by making a tax-deductible donation. Your gift will help reduce food insecurity, obesity and diabetes by ensuring that healthy food, beverages and opportunities for physical activity are convenient, accessible, affordable and sustainable.


Webmaster Email: