New research from the University of California Nutrition Policy Institute suggests that a 4-week Rethink your Drink curriculum for high school students can improve high school students' use of Nutrition Facts labels and decrease their consumption of diet soda. The Rethink Your Drink curriculum, developed by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), promotes drinking water and a variety of healthy beverages instead of sugar-sweetened beverages and use of the Nutrition Facts label and Ingredient List to choose beverages with little or no added sugars. The curriculum was pilot-tested in three California high schools with over 220 students and compared to 92 students in two schools that did not receive the curriculum. Despite the positive impact on Nutrition Facts label usage and decreasing consumption of diet soda, there was only a small but not significant decrease in sugar-sweetened beverage intake by students receiving the curriculum compared to those that did not. These findings suggest that developing a curriculum that is effective for improving beverage consumption among high school students may be challenging. Interviews and surveys with teachers and focus groups with students suggest the curriculum could be shortened, made more engaging with interactive activities as well as taste-tests of healthy beverages, and that the curriculum be modified to target younger students to support earlier development of healthy beverage consumption habits. Researchers suggest the effectiveness of the Rethink Your Drink curriculum could be increased if paired with evidence-based policy, systems and environmental change strategies that eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages from high-school students' environments. The study, funded by the CDPH, was published in the Health Education Journal in September 2021. Authors include Ron Strochlic, Gail Woodward-Lopez, Kaela Plank and Sridharshi Hewawitharana from NPI, and Jackie Richardson and Lauren Whetstone from CDPH.
Nutrition Policy Institute researchers evaluated parent perception of neighborhood produce availability in a large study of over 5000 children between the ages of 4-15 years in more than 130 communities across the US. Results suggest that parents who reported higher neighborhood produce availability–having access to a large selection of produce, produce being high quality, and produce being easy to purchase–were more likely to report having fruits and vegetables available in their home. Children living in homes with higher reported produce availability had higher fruit and vegetable intake, which was also associated with lower rates of child obesity measured by body mass index. However, these relationships were weaker in children living in households experiencing poverty and food insecurity. This suggests that efforts to improve childhood obesity through optimizing neighborhood and home fruit and vegetable access may be less effective in neighborhoods and households experiencing high rates of poverty and food insecurity. The study–part of the Healthy Communities Study project funded by the National Institutes of Health to examine community impacts on child obesity–was published in October 2021 in the journal Nutrients. Authors include Laurel Moffatt of Washington State University Extension Youth and Families Program Unit, Lauren Au of UC Davis Department of Nutrition, and Nutrition Policy Institute researchers Lorrene Ritchie, Wendi Gosliner and Kaela Plank.
California's 2010 Healthy Beverages in Child Care Act (AB2084) specifies that only unflavored low-fat milk or nonfat milk be served to children aged 2 years or older, allows no more than 1 daily serving of 100% juice, prohibits beverages with added sweeteners, and requires that safe drinking water be readily accessible throughout the day in all licensed California (CA) child care centers and family child care homes. A state-wide survey of CA child care providers conducted in 2016 by the University of California, Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) suggested that less than half (45%) of providers fully adhered to the beverage policy. Researchers at NPI partnered with the UCSF School of Nursing, California Childcare Health Program and UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) Cooperative Extension (CE), with support from a UC ANR grant, to develop a brief online training in English and Spanish for providers to increase adherence with the policy. Researchers evaluated the online training, 'Healthy Beverages in Early Care and Education', combined with six months of ongoing technical assistance from CE nutrition educators. The study enrolled 65 licensed child care providers in California. Results suggest that the online training can improve providers' awareness of the policy and knowledge of healthy beverage practices; however, it may not improve providers' adherence to the policy. Further, it suggests that additional technical assistance from CE nutrition educators beyond 6-months may be required to further increase awareness, knowledge, and policy adherence. Results from the study were published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior on June 1, 2021. The study was conducted by NPI researchers Danielle Lee, Kaela Plank, Hannah Thompson, Christina Hecht and Lorrene Ritchie in collaboration with Marisa Neelon from UC ANR, Karina Díaz Rios from UC Merced, and Abbey Alkon from the UCSF School of Nursing. The training is available online for free in English and Spanish for California child care providers, and for $15 for providers located outside of California.
The USDA granted states multiple operational waivers to continue to deliver the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) services during the COVID-19 pandemic and these waivers have enabled our ability to serve participants remotely. With funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Nutrition Policy Institute and Public Health Foundation Enterprise WIC gathered information from WIC participants about their experiences with WIC during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first brief based on information gathered from WIC participants in Los Angeles County is now available online, with more to come soon from interviews with participants and local agency staff from across California in the months to come.
The American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting and Expo is the largest yearly gathering of public health professionals. This year, the annual meeting is being held virtually October 24-28, 2020. Researchers from the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nutrition Policy Institute will be presenting their work on a variety of collaborative food and nutrition policy studies related to the child care food environment, school meals, the federal Supplemental Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and more. A full list of on-demand poster presentations and live oral presentations is below.
Child care food environment:
- California childcare centers and homes in the federal child and adult care food program offer more nutritious foods to infants
Presenters: Danielle Lee, Klara Gurzo, Lilly Nhan, Elyse Homel Vitale, Sallie Yoshida, Lorrene Ritchie
- Online training increases child care provider knowledge of healthy beverage policy and practices for young children
Presenters: Kaela Plank, Danielle Lee, Abbey Alkon, Marisa Neelon, L. Karina Diaz Rios, Katherine Soule, Lorrene Ritchie
- Impact of a district-wide chocolate milk removal policy on students' milk selection and consumption
Presenters: Hannah Thompson, Lorrene Ritchie, Kristine Madsen, Esther Park, Wendi Gosliner
Oral presentation, Wednesday, October 28, 2020, 8:15-8:30 AM PDT
- Families with children 1-5 years old: WIC program perspectives on nutrition education and food benefits
Presenters: Marisa Tsai, Lorrene Ritchie, Shannon Whaley, Catherine Martinez, Martha Meza, Lauren Au, Hallie Randel-Schreiber, Susan Sabatier
Oral presentation, Wednesday, October 28, 2020, 8:00-8:15 AM PDT
- Children on WIC followed through age 4 years: What are they eating?
Presenters: Lorrene Ritchie, Lauren Au, Shannon Whaley, Christine Borger
Oral presentation, Wednesday, October 28, 2020, 9:30-9:50 AM PDT
- Feeding beliefs and practices among low-income caregivers: Findings from year 4 of the WIC infant and toddler feeding practices study-2
Presenters: Courtney Paolicelli, Christine Borger, Lorrene Ritchie, Shannon Whaley
Oral presentation, Wednesday, October 28, 2020, 9:50-10:10 AM PDT
- Prevalence of overweight and obesity among children receiving WIC
Presenters: Christine Borger, Shannon Whaley, Lorrene Ritchie
Oral presentation, Wednesday, October 28, 2020, 10:10-10:30 AM PDT
- Longer participation in WIC is associated with healthier outcomes for children at age 4 years
Presenters: Shannon Whaley, Christine Borger, Lauren Au, Lorrene Ritchie
Oral presentation, Wednesday, October 28, 2020, 10:30-10:50 AM PDT
- Exploring housing and food insecurity among California university students: A holistic and comprehensive definition of students' basic needs
Presenters: Suzanna Martinez, Erin Esaryk, Laurel Moffat, Lorrene Ritchie
Oral presentation, Tuesday, October 27, 12:00-12:15 PM PDT
- Healthy default beverages in kids' meals: Evaluating policy implementation and impact in California and Delaware
Presenters: Allison Karpyn, Wendi Gosliner, Laura Lessard, Kathleen McCallops, Marisa Tsai, Tara Tracy, Phoebe Harpainter, Danielle Lee, Anna Martin, Lorrene Ritchie, Gail Woodward-Lopez
Oral presentation, Tuesday, October 27, 4:45-5:00 PM PDT
- Perceived produce availability and child fruit and vegetable intake: The healthy communities study
Presenters: Laurel Moffat, Lorrene Ritchie, Wendi Gosliner, Kaela Plank, Lauren Au
Oral presentation, Wednesday, October 28, 2020, 10:15-10:30 AM PDT
- Limited progress found in healthy checkout among food stores in economically disadvantaged California neighborhoods, 2011-2017
Presenters: Wendi Gosliner, Sriddharshi Hewawitharana, Janice Kao, Sadie Costello, Gail Woodward-Lopez
- A replication study of school-based SNAP-ed programmatic efforts to address student nutrition and physical activity outcomes
Presenters: John Pugliese, Lauren Whetstone, Sridharshi Hewawitharana, Gail Woodward-Lopez