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



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."


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.


March 24, 2017

Dani Lee addresses student food insecurity and open data at Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH) Leaders Forum

Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH) is a consortium of universities from around the world working together to fight hunger and make food and nutrition security a priority on their campuses. At the PUSH Leaders Forum held March 23-24, 2017, Nutrition Policy Institute policy analyst Dani Lee spoke about UC Global Food Initiative (GFI) work that addresses student food insecurity, the GFI-funded food security data mining project, results of the 2016 UC GFI Student Food Access and Security Study, and systemwide efforts to continue to assess UC student food insecurity. Two additional members of GFI, Tyson Monagle of UC Irvine and Samantha Lubow of UC Berkeley, discussed the role of universities in ending food waste by promoting the GFI-funded zero-waste toolkit and sharing best practices from UC Davis, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine and other UC campuses to reduce food waste and reduce student food insecurity.


March 23, 2017

New infographic for WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study 2

The USDA’s WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study 2 (WICITFPS-2): Infant Year Report, published in January 2017, now has a helpful infographic created by Westat that provides a summary of the report. NPI Director Lorrene Ritchie was one of the co-authors of the study, and NPI researcher Lauren Au supported background and literature searches for the study, which showed a dramatic increase over time in WIC’s influence in promoting healthy feeding practices for babies.


March 13, 2017

Kelly Brownell speaks at Nutrition Policy Institute about strategic science

Kelly Brownell, dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, and member of the board of directors of the Duke Global Health Institute, visited the Nutrition Policy Institute to speak about strategic science, a model for creating more impact from research. Brownell cited examples from obesity prevention, such as menu labeling, food marketing to children, working with state attorneys general, and more. In 2006 Time magazine listed Brownell among “The World’s 100 Most Influential People” in its special Time 100 issue featuring those “...whose power, talent or moral example is transforming the world.”


March 6–9, 2017

Nutrition Policy Institute goes to Washington

On March 6–9, a UC ANR delegation, including Nutrition Policy Institute Director Lorrene Ritchie, attended the 35th Annual Council on Agriculture Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) meetings in Washington D.C. CARET is part of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). The UC ANR delegation also visited members of Congress to explain the importance of science and research to California.


March 3, 2017

Lauren Au to present keynote at California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2017 Public Policy Workshop

On Monday, March 6, 2017, Nutrition Policy Institute researcher Lauren Au PhD, RD  gives the keynote presentation at the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ 2017 Public Policy Workshop in Sacramento, California. Au’s keynote, “Building Effective Relationships with Legislators,” draws on her experience on legislative public policy committees and a Farm Bill workgroup, as well as her experience as a Congressional fellow. Key takeaways from Au’s talk will be the benefits of maintaining meaningful relationships with legislators and staff, and proven strategies for successfully communicating with legislators and staff.  


February 16, 2017

Lorrene Ritchie part of expert panel providing evidence-based guidelines for infant and toddler feeding

To address the lack of guidelines for infant and toddler feeding practices in the United States, Healthy Eating Research (HER), a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, convened an expert panel, including Nutrition Policy Institute’s Lorrene Ritchie, to review the evidence that has emerged over the past two decades for promoting healthy nutrition and feeding patterns for infants and toddlers (ages 2 or younger). The panel’s resulting report, Best Practices for Promoting Healthy Nutrition, Feeding Patterns, and Weight Status for Infants and Toddlers from Birth to 24 Months has just been published. The evidence-based guidelines produced by the expert panel provide the most comprehensive and pragmatic approach to date for communicating to caregivers what and how best to feed infants and toddlers, while also taking into account the rapidly changing developmental stages during the first two years of life. The guidelines can be used by parents and caregivers in the home or child-care settings, and by health care providers and staff from programs such as WIC to give proper infant and toddler feeding advice to parents and caregivers. A webinar featuring panel members and Healthy Eating Research staff will be held on March 7 to discuss the guidelines; register in advance for the webinar.


February 10, 2017

New NPI study shows effectiveness of both online and in-person nutrition education 

A new Nutrition Policy Institute study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics concludes that, among participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (known as WIC), both online and in-person education resulted in improvements in knowledge and behaviors associated with reducing salt intake. Furthermore, the study notes that offering an online education option for WIC participants could broaden the reach of nutrition education and lead to long-term positive dietary changes. The study is the third that NPI has conducted among a specific population of WIC participants. The previous studies examined breakfast-eating behaviors and satisfaction with online and traditional in-person nutrition education.  


February 9, 2017

Lorrene Ritchie and Wendi Gosliner discuss healthy, sustainable improvements to school lunch

Nutrition Policy Institute Director Lorrene Ritchie and Project Scientist Wendi Gosliner were quoted in a recent article on how California is reinventing school lunch. Ritchie, who, with UC Berkeley colleague Kris Madsen, is evaluating the effectiveness of a San Francisco Unified School District pilot program to make school dining more enjoyable, noted how the dining experience has improved. “It’s set up to be more friendly to students, like at a restaurant,” said Ritchie, who also noted that the nutritional quality of school meals is often better than meals brought from home. Gosliner recounted how the ongoing federal commitment to a National School Lunch Program started in 1946, primarily due to the success of school meals as a way to provide the agricultural sector a market for its surplus food. Now it’s part of a national dialogue about how the nation eats.


February 3, 2017

Report on food waste from the Nutrition Education Summit

On February 3, 2017, UC ANR’s Nutrition Policy Institute and the Public Health Alliance of Southern California co-hosted a food waste prevention/food resource optimization meeting with California’s largest nutrition education program leaders in Sacramento. Participants represented the California Department of Education, the California Department of Public Health (WIC and NEOPB (SNAP-Ed) Branches), UC CalFresh, and UCCE. Representatives from each program shared the ways in which they are currently addressing food waste prevention/resource optimization and then heard from an expert panel about the work happening statewide and nationally to prevent food waste. Speakers included Dana Gunders from NRDC, Nick Lapis from Californians Against Waste and Chris Hunt from ReFED. Speakers characterized the issue of food waste; highlighted campaigns to prevent waste, such as NRDC’s Ad Council Save the Food campaign, EPA’s Food Too Good To Waste, and USDA’s Let’s Talk Trash campaigns; and shared recent California legislation, grant opportunities and other efforts to reduce food waste. As a result of the meeting, the participating agencies identified new opportunities to address food waste prevention in their own organizations and unanimously agreed to continue meeting in order to develop shared messages related to food waste prevention/resource optimization; to consider policy, system and environmental change efforts the group could pursue in the future; and to consider additional ways to incorporate food waste prevention into food and nutrition-related program and policy efforts in California.



Please see additional news items in our News section


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