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2015 News Archives

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)