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


January 9, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: Jenny Mulholland-Beahrs discusses the California Outdoor Engagement Coalition

Jenny Mulholland-Beahrs, director of the California Outdoor Engagement Coalition, will provide an overview of the coalition’s vision, mission, priorities, partnerships and projects, and then lead a discussion. Through cross-sector partnerships, the coalition expands transformational experiences in the outdoors for youth who reflect the overall demographics of California. Partners include the National Park Service, California State Parks, the Sierra Club, Latino Outdoors and OutDoor Afro.


December 5, 2017

Lorrene Ritchie to present at National Institutes of Health Workshop

Nutrition Policy Institute Director Lorrene Ritchie will present a talk on “Assessing Community Programs, Policies and Practices Related to Obesity Prevention” as part of the National Institutes of Health Pathways to Prevention Workshop: Methods for Evaluating Natural Experiments in Obesity. In her talk, Ritchie will summarize lessons learned from several studies assessing community program, policies and practices targeting pediatric obesity prevention, including Kaiser Permanente’s Community Health Initiative, the NIH-funded Healthy Communities Study and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded California Healthy Kids Study. The findings from these observational studies provide important information regarding what communities are doing to address pediatric obesity. They suggest common approaches already occurring in many communities that can inform future efforts to address childhood obesity.


November 16, 2017

NPI Brown Bag: A Conversation about Genetically Modified Food – Part 1: Rethinking the GMO debate: Science and undone science, by Alastair Iles and Maya Montenegro

UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management Associate Professor Dr. Alastair Iles and doctoral candidate Maywa Montenegro gave a presentation at the Nutrition Policy Institute called “A Conversation about Genetically Modified Food – Part 1: Rethinking the GMO debate: Science and undone science.” They were invited to speak in response to the recently released film Food Evolution, and presented their perspective on genetically modified food as it relates to ecology, human health, knowledge and culture, and economics through three cases: glyphosate, golden rice and dicamba. They recommended a resource for keeping up to date on the genetically modified food discussion: GM Watch.


November 8, 2017

Bayer Neighborhood Park and Garden project video now available

Bayer Neighborhood Park and Garden - Bringing People Together is a recent video produced by the Nutrition Policy Institute for Kaiser Permanente. The video shows an example of a built environment change, part of many community change initiatives, that UC Nutrition Policy Institute has evaluated to increase physical activity and healthy eating in communities in Northern California for Kaiser Permanente. This video and the program featured in it was supported by Kaiser Permanente’s community investments and produced by the UC Nutrition Policy Institute.


November 6, 2017

Food Blog: Joining forces to promote child health and wellness by Pat Crawford

Nutrition Policy Institute Senior Director of Research Pat Crawford recently published an article on the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Food Blog titled Joining forces to promote child health and wellness. In the article, Crawford discusses ways that medical and dental professionals can collaborate to improve the medical and dental health of children by helping children and families find ways to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.


November 4, 2017

Nutrition Policy Institute researchers present on a wide range of topics at APHA Annual Meeting

Nutrition Policy Institute researchers will be presenting on a range of topics at the American Public Health Association's 2017 Annual Meeting as part of the Food and Nutrition Section’s program. The largest public health meeting in the world, APHA 2017 takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, from November 4 to 8, 2017, and is expected to bring together more than 12,000 researchers and professionals from across the U.S. and around the world to network, educate and share experiences. NPI’s presentations focus on the wide range of topics that NPI researches, including breastfeeding among women on WICschool wellness policiescommunities and child nutrition (part of the Healthy Communities Study) and compliance with the new CACFP nutrition standards in childcare centers and homes in California


October 25, 2017

Lorrene Ritchie, Suzanna Martinez, and Ruben Canedo to discuss food insecurity at 2017 SSEW conference

Lorrene Ritchie and Suzanna Martinez of the Nutrition Policy Institute and Ruben Canedo of UC Berkeley and the UC Global Food Initiative will discuss food insecurity at the 11th Annual Sugar, Stress, Environment, and Weight (SSEW) Symposium. This year’s theme is Hungry for Change: Food Insecurity, Stress, and Obesity, and the symposium will take place on October 25, 2017, at UCLA. Registration is free.


October 23, 2017

NPI Brown Bag: Dana Gerstein presents on health and wellness impacts of Chicago’s Space to Grow initiative

Nutrition Policy Institute Academic Coordinator Dana Gerstein presents a talk at NPI on “Space to Grow, Evaluation Methods for Built Environments: Public Parks and Green Spaces” on Monday, October 23, 2017 at noon. Gerstein’s presentation will describe an evaluation methodology used to measure the impact of a built environment intervention, Chicago's Space To Grow Initiative, on the health and wellness of a community. The implementation of such evaluation methods could provide evidence that a healthy built environment can be a solution to health inequities. Regular access to public parks and green spaces offer numerous health and wellness benefits for individuals and communities, including physical activity, increased diversity of play, positive social interactions, increased resilience, stress reduction, improved social emotional health, improved academic outcomes and increased social capital.


October 23, 2017

Suzanna Martinez participates in #RealCollege

Nutrition Policy Institute’s Suzanna Martinez will participate in the Second #RealCollege Convening, October 23-24 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The national convening is led by Wisconsin HOPE Lab and provides an opportunity to interact and learn from leaders working to reduce food and housing insecurity.


October 5, 2017

Lorrene Ritchie presents two talks at UC Davis Human Lactation Center conference

Nutrition Policy Institute Director Lorrene Ritchie presents two talks on October 5, 2017, during the UC Davis Human Lactation Center’s “Understanding Healthy Feeding Transitions and Behavior in Infants and Young Children” 2017 conference. The first talk, on “Feeding Guidelines for Infants and Toddlers: A Responsive Parenting Approach” is from 11 am to 12:15 pm. Ritchie was on the expert panel that produced the Healthy Eating Research publication Feeding Guidelines for Infants and Young Toddlers: A Responsive Parenting Approach. The second talk, from 2:45 to 3:45 pm, is on “Beginning at the Start: Importance of Nutrition During Early Childhood Transitions.”


October 4, 2017

Proceedings available from National Academies workshop on limiting sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in young children; Christina Hecht presented

Nutrition Policy Institute Senior Policy Advisor Christina Hecht presented at a workshop on June 21, 2017 at the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine on “Strategies to Limit Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption in Young Children.” The proceedings of the workshop are now available. Hecht discussed the need for better data on young children’s hydration status and longitudinal changes in beverage intake, the efforts to make water the normative beverage after age-appropriate amounts of milk, and water safety issues. Hecht also reviewed water availability issues, and she described studies in which improving water access and offering beverage selection education in the school setting increased water intake among students. Hecht added that little research has been done in the child care setting to date, and she outlined new beverage standards for child care programs operating under the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) that are effective October 1, 2017: “Water must be offered throughout the day with visual cues.” In considering the current status of beverage intake among young children, Hecht suggested that a need exists to provide clear guidance to parents and caregivers on what, how and how much children should be drinking.


October 4, 2017

National Drinking Water Alliance website features new fact sheet on private well water safety

A new fact sheet on the National Drinking Water Alliance website, Closing the Water Quality Gap, helps state and local health department staff who want to understand how state and local policy, as well as outreach and education, can be used to ensure access to safe drinking water for people who use private wells. The federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) regulates the nation’s public drinking water supply, safeguarding drinking water for the majority of U.S. residents. However, twelve percent of the U.S. population, or 34 million people, get their water from private wells, and these smaller water systems do not meet the federal definition of a public water system and therefore are not regulated by federal law. This regulatory gap can be addressed at state and local levels through the adoption of state and local policies. Educating stakeholders about the potential risks of these federally unregulated water systems can be an effective way to gain support for such policy changes. The Closing the Water Quality Gap fact sheet defines policy, discusses the role that health departments can play in policy change and provides examples of state and local policies that can be applied to federally unregulated wells.


September 25, 2017

Kris Madsen to discuss “Leveling the Playing Field” at Just Food podcast launch on October 3

Just Food is a new 6-part podcast series about cultivating justice and health, produced by the Berkeley Food Institute in partnership with the UC Berkeley Advanced Media Institute at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. A launch event, on Tuesday, October 3, 2017 from 5 to 7 pm, will feature a preview of the upcoming episode “Leveling the Playing Field,” a story about the nation’s first sugar-sweetened beverage tax in Berkeley—from how the measure came into law in 2014 to how the tax and the revenue it generates are shaping the health of Berkeley residents today. A panel discussion and Q&A session with experts and community members featured in the podcast will be followed by a reception. NPI Affiliate Researcher Kris Madsen, who also is the faculty director of the Berkeley Food Institute, will participate in the panel discussion; her research team recently conducted the first study to examine the impact of Berkeley’s soda tax on sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in low-income neighborhoods in Berkeley. Ed Wasserman, dean of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, will provide opening remarks, and the panel discussion will be followed by comments from Sarah Bell, program director of the 11th Hour Project of the Schmidt Family Foundation, which provided funding for the podcast series.


September 21, 2017

Jennifer Sowerwine speaks at Nutrition Policy Institute about the UC Gill Tract Community Farm

Jennifer Sowerwine PhD, Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist and faculty member in the UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, delivered a presentation at the Nutrition Policy Institute on “From Occupation to Collaboration: Establishing a community-university partnership at the UC Gill Tract Community Farm to address urban food insecurity and food justice.”  Sowerwine's research interests include building equitable, economically viable and culturally relevant food systems in metropolitan areas that contribute to healthy communities, ecological diversity and sustainable livelihoods. She described the origin and creation of the innovative collaborative project between the community and the university at the UC Gill Tract Community Farm. As part of the presentation, she shared results from the recently completed Biennial Report on activities, outcomes and future visions for expansion at the farm. In support of the project, NPI staff will volunteer at the farm.


September 18, 2017

Lorrene Ritchie presents on Healthy Communities Study at the National Academies

Lorrene Ritchie gave a presentation to the National Academies’ Roundtable on Obesity Solutions about the Healthy Communities Study of the impacts of community efforts nationally on child nutrition. Colleagues joining Ritchie to present on different aspects of the Healthy Communities Study included Sonia Arteaga from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health; Steve Fawcett from University of Kansas; Warren Strauss from Battelle; and Russ Pate from the University of South Carolina.


September 15, 2017

Registration open for the 11th Annual Sugar, Stress, Environment, and Weight (SSEW) Symposium—Nutrition Policy Institute researchers to present

Registration is open for the 11th Annual Sugar, Stress, Environment, and Weight (SSEW) Symposium to be held on October 25 on the UCLA campus. This year's theme is “Hungry for Change: Food Insecurity, Stress and Obesity.” The symposium is presented by the UCSF Center for Obesity Assessment, Study and Treatment (COAST) and the UCLA Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy, and features leading researchers, including the Nutrition Policy Institute’s Lorrene Ritchie and Suzanna Martinez, and UC Global Food Initiative’s Ruben Canedo, who will participate in a panel discussion on “University of California Leading the Way to Address Food Insecurity in Students,” and NPI’s Barbara Laraia, who will be part of a panel discussion on “Food Insecurity, Stress, and Nutrition.” Register.


September 14, 2017

Global Food Initiative issue of California Agriculture features work by NPI’s Ritchie and Martinez

A special double issue of UC ANR’s California Agriculture magazine is now available, featuring 96 pages of research and other articles related to UC’s Global Food Initiative. The issue was guided by Nutrition Policy Institute Director Lorrene Ritchie and GFI Program Manager Gale Sheean-Remotto and includes an editorial by UC President Janet Napolitano, six stories on the the Global Food Initiative’s accomplishments and 10 research papers. NPI’s Suzanna Martinez contributed the paper ”College students identify university support for basic needs and life skills as key ingredient in food insecurity on campus.” Ritchie and Martinez previously published the groundbreaking 2016 University of California systemwide survey that showed that 42% of UC college students experienced food insecurity.


September 14, 2017

National Child and Adult Care Food Program Sponsors Association welcomes NPI as national ally

In their recent newsletter, the National Child and Adult Care Food Program Sponsors Association welcomed the Nutrition Policy Institute as a national ally, saying about NPI that “Their work on CACFP and childcare includes supporting the successful implementation of the new CACFP regulations.”


September 12, 2017

The National Drinking Water Alliance holds Congressional educational briefing in Washington, D.C.

The National Drinking Water Alliance held a Congressional educational briefing on September 12, 2017, in the U.S. Capitol on "Issues in Drinking Water." Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) co-sponsored the briefing. Attendees included representatives from more than 50 organizations and congressional staffers from both sides of the aisle. The briefing featured three distinguished speakers who highlighted the importance of drinking water for health and the need for sturdy infrastructure for tap water: William H. Dietz, chair of the Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness at George Washington University; Vice Admiral Manson Brown of the U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.); and Tom Neltner of the Environmental Defense Fund. The briefing kicked off with a surprise for the crowd of well over 100 attendees: Steph Curry, of the defending NBA champions the Golden State Warriors, gave a vibrant shout-out for water and welcoming message by video.


September 12, 2017

Research to Action September 2017 issue focuses on oral health and medical professionals' collaboration to reduce obesity, tooth decay

The September 2017 issue of the Nutrition Policy Institute's Research to Action highlights ways that oral health and medical professionals can partner to reduce children's consumption of a shared enemy that leads to both obesity and dental caries: sugar-sweetened beverages.


September 11, 2017

Nutrition Policy Institute mentioned on Gastropod podcast

The Gastropod “Lunch Gets Schooled” episode, released September 11, 2017, mentions Nutrition Policy Institute’s research collaboration with UC Berkeley economists to investigate how healthy school lunches affect students' academic success. The NPI research mentioned on the podcast was previously highlighted in an article in The Atlantic in March 2017.


September 8, 2017

Ron Strochlic collaborates with Berkeley Food Institute to research the Equitable Food Initiative

As part of a Berkeley Food Institute project (“Making the Business Case for Improved Farm Labor Conditions”) and in collaboration with researchers at UC Berkeley, the Nutrition Policy Institute’s Ron Strochlic conducted research on the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI), a new voluntary certification program promoting reduced pesticide use, increased food safety and improved labor conditions on farms in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The research goals were to: 1) develop a set of indicators to lay the groundwork for future research quantifying costs and benefits associated with participation in social certification schemes, and 2) explore the “Leadership Teams” model, an innovative worker-management model promoting worker awareness of the EFI standards and improved channels of communication. The research findings indicate a range of costs and benefits associated with social certification and the Leadership Teams model, including improved food safety, improved channels of communication and improved conditions for agricultural workers. The research was funded by the Berkeley Food Institute and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Read more about “Making the Business Case for Improved Farm Labor Conditions” in Berkeley Food Institute’s Interdisciplinary Research Projects 2013-2017 booklet.


September 7, 2017

Nutrition Policy Institute affiliated researcher Kris Madsen begins role as faculty director of Berkeley Food Institute

Nutrition Policy Institute affiliated researcher Kris Madsen MD, MPH, begins a new role as faculty director of the Berkeley Food Institute as of the start of the fall semester. Madsen looks forward to "working with faculty, students and staff across campus to advance sustainable agricultural practices, to ensure fair labor practices across the food chain, and to innovate to ensure access to affordable and healthy food in all communities."


August 28, 2017

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ workgroup releases 2018 Farm Bill priorities; NPI’s Lauren Au was co-chair of workgroup

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Priorities for the 2018 Farm Bill have been released by the Academy’s Farm Bill workgroup. The workgroup was co-chaired by Nutrition Policy Institute’s Lauren Au and Creating a Hunger Free North Dakota’s Karen Ehrens. Working under the Legislative and Public Policy Committee, the Academy’s Farm Bill workgroup prioritizes four major areas of work, each of which has specific programmatic and structural recommendations for Congress to consider as they work on the 2018 Farm Bill. The four areas are: 1) Empower consumers — drive demand toward healthful foods and reduce food waste, 2) Ensure sound science and program evaluation for future evidenced-based decision making, 3) Support innovative nutrition assistance programs to improve access to healthful, affordable and safe foods, and 4) Support the food supply chain: producers and retailers that create a healthful and safe food system and reduce food waste.


August 24, 2017

USDA/ARS Center for WIC Nutrition Education Innovations publishes workshop summary and final report

The United States Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service (USDA/ARS) Children’s Nutrition Research Center (CNRC) at Baylor College of Medicine was awarded funding to create the USDA Center for WIC Nutrition Education Innovations (CNRC WIC Center) in August 2012. The major goal of the CNRC WIC Center was to develop and administer a competitive process to solicit, evaluate and fund innovative and effective WIC nutrition education sub-grants. A Request for Applications was developed and issued two times. University-based researchers, collaborating with state/local WIC collaborators, were eligible to respond. Four awards were made: 1) Dr. Rafael Perez-Escamilla at Yale for LATCH (Lactation Advice Thru Texting Can Help), 2) Dr. Lorrene Ritchie at University of California Nutrition Policy Institute for Online Nutrition Education: WIC in the 21st Century, 3) Dr. Jennifer Di Noia at William Paterson University for Online WIC Nutrition Education to Promote Farmer Markets Fruit and Vegetable Purchases and Consumption, and 4) Dr. M. Jane Heinig at University of California, Davis for Supporting Baby Behavior Through Pediatric Offices. These were distinct projects with different outcomes measures (breakfast dietary behaviors, salt reduction, breastfeeding maintenance for three months, timing of first postpartum contact between mother and Peer Counselor, improvements in fruit and vegetable intake and use of farmers’ market nutrition program and WIC cash value vouchers, and the effect of providing baby behavior tools and training designed for medical staff on provider knowledge and practice and on WIC participant outcomes (infant BMI z score). The USDA/ARS Center for WIC Nutrition Education Innovations has now published a workshop summary and final report on the funded studies.


August 7, 2017

NPI to evaluate Riverside Unified School District's innovative Food Hub

The Nutrition Policy Institute is evaluating a new model of distribution of fresh produce by a school district that benefits both farmers and the local community. The Food Hub, pioneered by the Riverside, California Unified School District, provides a model that can expand markets for specialty crops into areas that lack the resources and volume to make fresh produce part of their menus or sales, and that the growers previously have not been able to penetrate. Small school districts, corner stores, childcare homes and centers, small restaurants and WIC stores can all benefit from the increased access to fresh produce through the RUSD Food Hub. In addition, these outlets provide a place to sell small and cosmetically imperfect produce, thereby reducing food waste while also developing a new revenue stream for local farmers. If the RUSD Food Hub is successful, the model could be adopted by other large school districts, each of which can develop new markets for specialty crop growers while improving nutrition for needy 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. 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 31, 2017

National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research spotlights Healthy Communities Study

The Healthy Communities Study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was highlighted in the July 2017 issue of the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research newsletter after the first study findings were published online in the American Journal of Preventive Health. The authors of the study, which included the Nutrition Policy Institute’s Lorrene Ritchie, concluded “Healthy weight among children is influenced by conditions that make it easier and more rewarding to engage in multiple behaviors related to physical activity and healthy nutrition.” 


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.


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.


January 31, 2017

Nutrition Education Summit to tackle food waste

As Nutrition Policy Institute’s Project Scientist Wendi Gosliner notes in a recent UC Food Observer blog post, up to 40 percent of food produced in the United States is wasted. How can we tackle this critical issue? On February 3, 2017, Gosliner and other leaders from California’s public health and nutrition education programs (including WIC, the National School Lunch ProgramSNAP-Ed and UC Cooperative Extension) will meet in Sacramento to brainstorm new strategies to help Californians reduce food waste through consumer messaging as well as proposed policy and system changes. Many states are exploring ways to reduce food waste, but California is emerging as a leader. Reducing food waste presents a win-win opportunity in California, where innovative state mandates are in place to address climate change. 


January 30, 2017

Christina Hecht contributes guest blog post describing the National Drinking Water Alliance

Nutrition Policy Institute’s Senior Policy Advisor Christina Hecht contributed a piece describing the National Drinking Water Alliance (NDWA) to the UC Food Observer’s guest blog. NDWA is a national coalition of nonprofits, academic institutions, advocates and individuals, and works to ensure that all children are able to readily access safe drinking water in the places where they live, learn and play. NDWA’s website serves as a “clearinghouse” for information about drinking water. It contains literally hundreds of useful tools, research studies, fact sheets, promotional materials, policy papers and the latest news from the field.


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 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 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


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)

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