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

News

January 12, 2017

USDA Study Finds Improved Feeding Practices Among WIC Participants

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) was established to safeguard the health of low-income pregnant women and infants who are at nutritional risk. The WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study–2 (WIC ITFPS-2) “Feeding My Baby” captures data on WIC caregivers and their children over the first five years of each child’s life to address a series of research questions regarding feeding practices, the effect of WIC services on those practices, and the health and nutrition outcomes of children on WIC. This new study assesses changes in behaviors and trends that may have occurred over the past 20 years by comparing the findings to the first WIC Infant Feeding Practices Study–1 (WIC IFPS-1), the last major study of the diets of infants on WIC. Just released, the new study found that, due to WIC, mothers made positive changes in how they feed themselves and their families, knowing how to choose more healthy foods, breastfeeding at a higher rate and eating more fruits and vegetables. NPI Director Lorrene Ritchie is one of the co-authors of the new study, and NPI researcher Lauren Au supported background and literature searches for the study.

 

January 11, 2017

Video of Dr. Lorrene Ritchie and Dr. Pat Crawford discussing childhood obesity policies at COAST SSEW

In an informative presentation from the 2016 Center for Obesity Assessment, Study and Treatment (COAST) Sugar, Stress, Environment and Weight (SSEW) Initiative SymposiumDr. Lorrene Ritchie and Dr. Pat Crawford discuss the scientific methods the Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) uses to help turn research into policy. “Good science is needed to inform good nutrition policy,” states Ritchie during the presentation, and she and Crawford provide examples of research-influenced nutrition policies that have helped reduce the epidemic of childhood obesity. By combining quantitative research with qualitative research, and by engaging stakeholders and partners in collaborating on solutions, NPI helped bring groundbreaking nutrition policies such as the Pupil Nutrition, Health and Achievement Act of 2001 and the Healthy Beverages in Child Care Act (effective January 1, 2012) to fruition.

 

January 9, 2017

Michelle Obama's inspiring legacy: Top 10 Let's Move! moments

A recent blog post highlights First Lady Michelle Obama's important work with the Let's Move! initiative to help raise a healthier generation of kids and families. Mrs. Obama's leadership in raising public awareness of the epidemic of childhood obesity and implementing strategies that prevent obesity and improve health has had a powerful impact.

 

December 22, 2016

Dr. Lorrene Ritchie quoted in Huffington Post article

In a Huffington Post article by Joseph Erbentraut on efforts by conservative lawmakers in the House Freedom Caucus to do away with the school lunch program, Dr. Lorrene Ritchie, director of the Nutrition Policy Institute, was quoted about the benefits of the program. "If we want to improve child nutrition, there is no better way I know of that will impact so many children," she said about the school lunch program. "Repealing this seems to me to make no sense." The article went on to mention a study Ritchie helped author that was published in the November 2016 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The study found that meals served in the school lunch program were of a higher nutritional quality than meals brought from home.

 

December 13, 2016

Dr. Lorrene Ritchie discusses food insecurity on Farm To Table Talk podcast 

One out of every 7 households in the US is food insecure. Over half of our infants receive some type of federal food support (WIC). Beyond "farm to table," what happens when a nation's students are unable to get the nutrition they need? On the Farm To Table Talk podcast, Dr. Lorrene Ritchie, director of the Nutrition Policy Institute, sizes up the issue, explains the research findings and suggests a way forward where everyone can help.

 

December 5, 2016

Nutrition Policy Institute study highlights benefits of school lunch

Lunches served in the National School Lunch Program have higher nutritional quality than lunches brought from home, according to the largest comparison study conducted to date. Published in the November 2016 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dieteticsthe study, conducted by researchers at UC's Nutrition Policy Institute, involved nearly 4,000 elementary school students in Southern California.

 

October 20, 2016

The long-lasting impacts of using research to inform nutrition policies 

In a video profile created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation, NPI researcher Lauren Au observes the long-lasting impacts of using research to inform nutrition policies.  Au notes that by encouraging access to healthy foods and healthy drinking options, and by promoting changes in behavior to improve health and well-being, nutrition policy initiatives can help reduce food insecurity, obesity, and diabetes in the U.S. and also serve as a model for other countries around the world. 

 

October 18, 2016

New resource on safe drinking water

The National Drinking Water Alliance recently launched its new online resource, a clearinghouse for drinking water research, policy, access and education. The website contains hundreds of useful tools, research studies, fact sheets, promotional materials and policy papers, as well as the latest developments in the field. The National Drinking Water Alliance is a coalition of nonprofits, academic institutions, advocates and individuals that works to ensure that all children are able to access safe drinking water in the places where they live, learn and play.

 

October 7, 2016

Sugar, Stress, Environment and Weight (SSEW) Symposium

Registration is now open for the 8th annual Sugar, Stress, Environment and Weight (SSEW) Symposium "Food & Addiction: Environment, Policy, and Individual Factors” on Thursday, October 27, 2016 from 10 am to 4 pm at UCSF Laurel Heights, S124 Auditorium. Join NPI’s Pat Crawford and Lorrene Ritchie for the exciting opportunity hear leading researchers, health professionals and influential policy makers from the UC system and beyond explore the intersections of biology, behavior, food and addiction, and discuss how to prevent food addiction across the lifespan for individuals and communities. Register.

 

September 1, 2016

NPI researchers receive NIH awards to study childhood obesity

Two researchers at the Nutrition Policy Institute have been awarded K01 Career Development Awards by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Lauren Au will research disparities in the relationship between the school nutrition environment and childhood obesity and Suzanna Martinez will study sleep duration and risk for obesity in Mexican American children.

 

August 11, 2016

NPI’s Director Ritchie named to Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Advisory Council

NPI’s Director, Lorrene Ritchie, was named to the Nutrition and Healthy Food Choices Advisory Council of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR).  Each Advisory Council of the Foundation is composed of leading experts across the food and agriculture industry. The Foundation’s focus is on increasing the scientific and technological research, innovation and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. See press release here.
 
 

August 10, 2016

Views on Food Insecurity from UC Students

As part of the University of California Global Food Initiative, there was interest in understanding student perspectives on food insecurity. NPI and the Food Access and Security Committee, led by Ruben Canedo and Tim Galarneu, collaborated with UC students Sanna Alas, Tyler Watson and Ali Shahbaz, to create a video that puts a face on food insecurity and helps to raise awareness of the issue on UC campuses.

 

August 5, 2016

UC World Food Day Video Challenge

NPI, in collaboration with the UC Davis World Food Center and the UC Global Food Initiative, is hosting the World Food Day Video Challenge. Undergraduate and graduate students across all UC campuses are invited to submit short videos highlighting UC research addressing hunger, health and a more sustainable food system. The deadline for submissions is September 7, 2016. Please see http://worldfoodcenter.ucdavis.edu/video-challenge/ for more information. 

 

July 27, 2016

NPI's Lauren Au, Nutrition Hero

Dr. Lauren Au, a NPI researcher was proclaimed a nutrition hero in the Food & Nutrition Magazine, published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. Read her profile here.

 

July 26, 2016

NPI applauds Smart Snacks for school children. For more information visit UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Food Blog.

 

July 21, 2016

NPI Researcher Suzanna Martinez interviewed about UC student food insecurity on KPFA

Dr. Suzanna Martinez was interviewed today by Pat Brooks on the Up Front Program on KPFA Berkeley’s radio station about a recent UC report about food insecurity among UC Students. Based on over 9,000 students surveys, the study found that 42% of UC students had some degree of food insecurity.

 

July 12, 2016

NPI Report on Food Insecurity Among UC Students

NPI recently conducted a survey of food insecurity among University of California students at all 10 campuses as part of President Napolitano’s Global Food Initiative. We found that 42% of students reported being food insecure in the past 12 months--meaning they experienced a diet poor in quality and/or reduced dietary intake, such as skipping meals or cutting the size of their meals due to lack of financial resources. The full report, Student Food Access and Security Study, includes the University of California systemwide results and plans for addressing the issue.

 

June 30, 2016

Implications of New Added Sugars Content on Nutrition Labels in the U.S.

NPI’s Pat Crawford comments on implications with other UC researchers on the new Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods in the U.S. For the first time, added sugars will appear on the label starting in 2018.

 

June 23, 2016

New NPI webinar about healthy foods in food banks - change of date

NPI researchers Liz Campbell, Laura Vollmer and Karen Webb will host a free webinar, "Fostering Partnerships: Supporting Healthful Foods in the Charitable Food Network" on Monday, June 23, 2016 from 10:00 to 11:30 am Pacific time. They will discuss nutrition guidelines and policies for food banks, and how Cooperative Extension, public health departments  and others can work collaboratively with food pantries and food banks to support improvements in healthful food procurement and distribution. 

*Please note: This event has been moved from Monday, June 13, 2016 to Thursday, June 23, 2016.

 

June 9, 2016

NPI Case Studies on School Kitchen Grants from USDA

A new report from The Pew Charitable Trust includes results from 6 case studies conducted by NPI about the benefits of USDA kitchen-equipment grants to improve the school meal operations and nutrition quality of school meals. The case studies examine the benefits to school meal quality from small improvements to the school kitchen space. Thirteen more case studies will be released later this summer.

 

May 24, 2016

Effectiveness of online and in-person education in the WIC program

NPI researchers found that online delivery of education is an acceptable addition to traditional in-person education for WIC participants with online access. High-quality online education platforms represent an important avenue to promote continued satisfaction with nutrition education.

 

April 22, 2016

New nutrition standards for the Child and Adult Care Food Program

Lorrene Ritchie, PhD, RD, NPI's Director and CE Specialist at the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, commends the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a support letter upon the release of the Final Rule containing new nutrition standards for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)

 

April 18, 2016

New NPI study of intra-household gender dynamics and CalFresh enrollment

NPI, in collaboration with the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare, the UC Berkeley Law School, the UC Berkeley Department of Sociology, the University of San Francisco and the California Association of Food Banks, was awarded one of two 2016 Berkeley Food Institute seed grants. The research will explore intra-household gender dynamics among immigrant Latino households in California as a barrier to CalFresh enrollment. Anecdotal data suggests that male head of household opposition to CalFresh enrollment has contributed to lower uptake rates. The research will explore the nature and extent of this issue and develop program, outreach and policy recommendations. 

 

April 13, 2016

Nutrition standard for family child care settings

Researchers at NPI developed nutrition standards for family child care settings. The nutrition standards are based on evidence, feasibility and input from practice-based advisors so they are realistic and impactful on health.

 

April 13, 2016

WIC food changes improve children’s diets

Researchers at UC ANR’s Nutrition Policy Institute participated in a study that assessed the impact of 2009 changes in the WIC food package for young children.They found that children in WIC households were 5 times more likely than other comparable children to have eaten vegetables in a two-day period.  Eating other healthful foods also increased among the WIC children, although not as dramatically as green vegetable and bean consumption.  This study shows that modifying the WIC food package was an important and effective policy change, improving children’s diets and, potentially, their future health.

 

February 29, 2016

Dr. Ritchie discusses UC’s Global Food Initiative and NPI’s work on food insecurity among college students

NPI Director Ritchie spoke at the 2016 Push Leaders Forum on February 25 at the University of Missouri-Columbia. This is part of Presidents United to Solve Hunger, which is dedicated to harnessing the power of universities and their leadership to address hunger issues.

 

January 18, 2016

Lorrene Ritchie comments on the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Dr. Ritchie, NPI Director, commented about the sugar and beverage guidance in the new U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans with other UC experts in universityofcalifornia.edu News.

 

December 30, 2015

New online healthy beverage training for child care providers

The Nutrition Policy Institute, in collaboration with Karina Diaz Rios, Katherine Soule and Marisa Neelon in the UC Cooperative Extension and Dr. Abbey Alkon at UC San Francisco, was recently awarded a 3-year grant from UC’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources to support an innovative training to prevent obesity among preschoolers. One in every four youngsters is obese or overweight before entering kindergarten. This project will develop, pilot test, evaluate and disseminate an online training for licensed child care providers on how to create and maintain a healthy beverage environment for young children in child care.

 

December 18, 2015

NPI food drive supports local food bank

To celebrate National Food Day and help others for the holidays, NPI organized a food drive among University of California Office of the President employees in Oakland. They donated a total of $3,808 and 283 cans and packages of food to the Alameda County Community Food Bank.

 

December 16, 2015

Teaching parents about the importance of breakfast has benefits for both parent and child

Both in-person and online education are effective in reducing breakfast-skipping and improving nutrition in children, according to a new study Online and In-Person Nutrition EducationImproves Breakfast Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors: A Randomized Trial of Participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A unique benefit of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is the inclusion of nutrition education. NPI researchers report that both online and in-person group education are effective in helping parents reduce breakfast-skipping and improve other breakfast-related nutritional knowledge and benefits. You can watch a short podcast about the study and for more information about the results, visit the article at the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources blog site.

 

December 10, 2015

How collaborating organizations can improve PE in schools

Affiliated NPI researchers Hannah Thompson and Kris Madsen recently published an article on physical education (PE) in schools, Lessons Learned: A Strategic Alliance to Improve Elementary Physical Education in an Urban School District in Progress in Community Health Partnerships. They detail the actions, impact and successes of a strategic alliance formed by three collaborating organizations to improve PE in San Francisco public elementary schools.

 

December 6, 2015

New NPI study of nutrition standards in child care settings

NPI was awarded a new grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Eating Research Program to evaluate the impact of the new USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) nutrition standards.CACFP provides nutritious foods to over 3 million young children in family or group day care homes in the US. The nutrition standards have not changed since CACFP’s inception in 1968. This is about to change: the USDA recently proposed new nutrition standards which will have the largest impact on the daily nutrition of young children of any single nutrition policy since CACFP’s introduction. This new NPI study will track the implementation successes and challenges of the transition to enhance their effectiveness.

 

November 6, 2015

NPI Director Lorrene Ritchie’s research on beverages in child care settings featured in UC article Research That’s Changing U.S. Food Policy

NPI research is helping provide healthier beverage choices for California preschoolers in child care. Lorrene Ritchie conducted a study that found a substantial need for improving the beverages served to young children in licensed child care. This research finding helped lead to the Healthy Beverages in Child Care Law (AB 2084), aimed at offering alternatives to sugary drinks. This law currently stands among the most comprehensive of any state laws on child care beverages.

 

October 15, 2015

School breakfast policy improves diet quality without increasing overall calories

NPI researchers’ new article School Breakfast Policy is Associated with Dietary Intake of Fourth- and Fifth-Grade Students in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics showed that breakfast in the classroom policies increased dietary quality without increasing overall caloric intake throughout the day.

 

 

September 25, 2015

Fresh fruit and vegetable program evaluation

NPI took part in the first national evaluation of the USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. The program, which provides healthy fruit and vegetable snacks at elementary schools, was successful in increasing the intake of elementary students by 1/3 of a cup per day. More information on the study results can be found in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

 

September 24, 2015

Beverage regulation in child care

California has regulations on the beverages that can be served in child care centers and homes that are more comprehensive than any other state.  Recent findings from an NPI study published in Preventing Chronic Disease describes the impact of the state of the drinking water provision on young children.

 

September 22, 2015

Healthy Communities Study

The NIH-funded Healthy Communities Study methods articles have been released in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. NPI developed and monitored the nutrition study protocol for children and the food environment. This national five-year study aims to answer the question: What community strategies are working to improve child nutrition and reduce child obesity?

 

September 10, 2015

Serving up school lunches of tomorrow

NPI and UC Berkeley are partnering with SF Unified School District on a new USDA-funded study to test the impact of innovative school lunches. There is a story by Mark Bittman about these school dining reforms in the New York Times.

 

September 4, 2015

 NPI school food equipment project

On Thursday, September 3, 2015, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11, Concord) paid a visit to Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) in Concord, CA to showcase the district’s new kitchen equipment, purchased with funds from USDA kitchen-upgrade grants. NPI has a contract with The Pew Charitable Trusts to conduct case studies across California and five other states to highlight the benefits of these grants for schools that need the new food service equipment to produce healthy meals for students from scratch. MDUSD serves over 2.5 million lunches every school year, and school meals can provide more than half a child's nutrition in a day. For more information see this ANR blog post.

 

September 1, 2015

Drinking water draws attention in the New York Times

The New York Times published a column about dehydration in “Upshot” (August 24) written by Dr. Aaron Carroll. Print and online editions of the August 31 Times published a letter to the editor co-signed by Christina Hecht, Nutrition Policy Institute, and Patrice Pascual, Children’s Dental Health Project, citing Dr. Carroll's column and underscoring the importance of encouraging children and adults to consume tap water, particularly as a replacement for sugary beverages.  Read the letter here

 

August 18, 2015

Poll finds strong national support for improved nutrition standards in school meals and for drinking water 

Results released this morning from a new national survey commissioned by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation show 9 out of 10 people in the U.S. support the national school nutrition standards and 91% say kids need access to safe drinking water in schools.  For full survey results on national opinion on School Meals, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and a toolkit with resources, go to http://bit.ly/1Ksk0zo.

  

August 11, 2015

Leveraging research for policy

NPI is featured in a new Global Food Initiative publication highlighting ways that UC research has been used to inform and affect policies in food, nutrition and agriculture.

 

July 2, 2015

Childhood Obesity Conference

NPI was a proud sponsor of the 8th Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference, the world's largest and most influential conference dedicated to combating childhood obesity, which took place June 29-July 2, 2015 in San Diego, California. For more information visit:
 
 
 
May 5, 2015

UC President Napolitano asks Secretaries of Agriculture and Health & Human Services to prioritize drinking water

UC President Janet Napolitano says "promoting calorie-free water is an essential strategy in fighting the nation’s obesity and diabetes epidemics." In a letter to the secretaries of the USDA and HHS, Napolitano urged the government to add a symbol for water on the USDA MyPlate infographic. It's not too late to join the effort to promote plain drinking water as the beverage of choice for Americans. But time is running out. Click here to tell Washington to Make Water First for Thirst.
 
 

April 10, 2015

NPI food bank nutrition policy

NEW! Resources from NPI to help food banks and those who work with them to improve the nutrition quality of the foods they distribute. Click here to watch our new video, register for a free online course and read our discussion paper published by the Institute of Medicine on the opportunities and challenges for improving the nutrition quality of charitable foods.

 

April 1, 2015

UC researchers awarded nearly $2 Million for childhood obesity prevention project

Berkeley, CA (April 1, 2015) – Researchers at the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Nutrition Policy Institute and UC Berkeley School of Public Health will use a nearly $2 million childhood obesity prevention grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to evaluate a two-year school meal technology and design innovation project developed by the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). The project will measure the impact of 21st century student-centered strategies based on behavioral economics to increase student participation in the school lunch program, reduce plate waste, improve dietary intake and reduce obesity among low-income youth. (More)

  

March 24, 2015

Nutrition Policy Institute urges USDA to make water "First for Thirst" 

Bethesda, MD (March 24, 2015) – The U.S. government should promote plain drinking water as the beverage of choice, according to comments submitted today by the University of California’s Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) at a public meeting for oral testimony on the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The institute also urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to add a symbol for water to its MyPlate graphic. (More)

 

February 26, 2015

The Nutrition Policy Institute welcomes Pat Crawford as Senior Director of Research 

The Nutrition Policy Institute welcomes Pat Crawford from the Atkins Center for Weight and Health at UC Berkeley. Over the past 15 years, Pat has directed this stellar and growing research center. Pat’s research team and projects also will join NPI. Read the announcement letters by Lorrene Ritchie and Pat Crawford.

 

February 19, 2015

Tell Washington to make water "First for Thirst"

The comment period is now open for the very important 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The DGAs provide advice to every American on what makes up a healthy diet, and drinking water deserves to be part of that advice. The DGAs also control nutrition standards for WIC, School Lunch, School Breakfast, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program – and the Guidelines will be turned into the MyPlate graphic that nearly every school and child care center and home has up on the wall. This is the time to make your voice heard. USDA and HHS are eager to hear from you. They need your comments – and they are easy to send (click here).


Comments needed on USDA's childcare food program meal standards

USDA has rolled out the proposed nutrition standards for meals and snacks in childcare homes and centers. These are the first new standards since the program began, and they make extremely important changes. USDA wants to know what you think about these proposed new standards. Get your comments in – here’s how (click here).

  

February 11, 2015

Website launched to support Nutrition Policy Institute at UC ANR

The Nutrition Policy Institute’s new website will support its mission of improving nutrition and reducing obesity, hunger and chronic disease risk in children and their families in diverse settings. Over time, the website will be built out with new content and features promoting NPI’s research and education activities. The director of the Institute is Lorrene Ritchie. (More)

Webmaster Email: easizensky@ucanr.edu