The University of California's Nutrition Policy Institute released brief training videos to aid family child care home providers in promoting proper nutrition among young children. Current California law mandates only an hour of nutrition training for child care providers licensed after 2015, omitting over 30,000 providers who care for nearly 310,000 children. To address this gap, NPI has unveiled seven brief videos, each under 60 seconds, in English and Spanish. These videos, which can be freely used by educators, align with evidence-based recommendations for what and how to feed infants and toddlers. They were developed for the one-hour online trainings, "Infant and Toddler Feeding Recommendations for Family Child Care Home Providers," available in Spanish as well. While California providers can access the trainings for free, those outside the state can access them for $15. Each training concludes with a completion certificate. The UC Nutrition Policy Institute collaborated with UCSF California Childcare Health Program, UCSF School of Nursing, UC Cooperative Extension, and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources News and Outreach in Spanish for this project, supported by a UC ANR grant.
Healthy default beverage laws require restaurants to list healthier beverages—such as water or unflavored milk as opposed to sugary drinks—as the default option for children's meals. These laws intend to address unhealthy beverage consumption by young children, directing consumers toward healthier beverage choices at no additional cost. New research evaluates the adherence of children's meals to healthy default beverage laws from online restaurant meal ordering platforms available in Los Angeles, Baltimore, and New York City. Among over 100 of the top-grossing restaurant chains sampled, fewer than 3% of online children meal orders in any jurisdiction adhered to the strictest interpretation of the healthy default beverage laws. Varying adherence to healthy default beverage laws by jurisdiction was found and may be attributable to differing definitions of a healthy beverage. For example, California's law considers non-flavored milk and water as healthy default beverage options, while Baltimore and New York laws also allow 100% juice and flavored milk. Policy can be optimized by clearly defining healthy beverages, bundled children's meals, and what constitutes adherence to the law for online ordering platforms. The study, published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, was conducted by Daniel Zaltz and Sara Benjamin-Neelson of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Danielle Lee, Gail Woodward-Lopez, and Lorrene Ritchie of the Nutrition Policy Institute, and Sara Bleich of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health with partial support from a grant from the National Institutes of Health (no. T32DK062707).
Healthy Eating Research (HER), a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, conducted a rapid Health Impact Assessment (HIA) to understand how improving school nutrition standards could impact the nutritional quality of school meals, school meal participation, student dietary consumption, students' health and wellbeing, and academic performance. The HIA features several studies conducted by the Nutrition Policy Institute, including a study showing the effectiveness of removing flavored milk from schools in reducing added sugar intake without compromising the intake of milk-related nutrients. Another showed that schools successfully implemented the school meal nutrition standards per the 2010 Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act. It also features a study showing that limiting competitive foods offered in California schools didn't lead to significant revenue loss and improved schools adherence to nutrition standards. Overall, the HIA evidence reviewed suggests that aligning school meal nutrition standards with the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans could have significant positive implications for child nutrition and health and is likely to increase student participation in school meal programs, improve food security, increase school food service revenue, and improve academic performance.
A new study from University of California researchers suggests that most fast food restaurants in low-income neighborhoods in California are not offering beverages online in a way that is consistent with the state's healthy beverage law for children's meals sold on the restaurant's website and popular online ordering platforms like DoorDash, GrubHub, and UberEats. California's Healthy-By-Default Beverage law requires restaurants to offer only plain or sparkling water with no added sweeteners, unflavored milk or unflavored non-dairy milk as the default beverage in children's meals. The law also requires that menus, menu boards and advertisements for children's meals include only approved default options. Researchers found that less than six percent of the observations they made on the online ordering platforms of 245 fast food restaurants across low-income California neighborhoods were offering children's meal beverages that were consistent with the Healthy-By-Default Beverage law in its most restrictive interpretation. This is cause for concern as online ordering platforms are gaining popularity. The study was published online in the journal Public Health Nutrition by Nutrition Policy Institute researchers Hannah Thompson, Anna Martin, Ron Strochlic, Sonali Singh, and Gail Woodward Lopez as part of the NPI CalFresh Healthy Living evaluation.
In the United States, over 25 million people work and learn at colleges and universities, consuming an untold number of meals, snacks, and beverages while on campus. Unlike in K-12 schools, higher education institutions are not governed by federal policies to ensure that foods and beverages sold on campus meet minimum nutrition standards. While many universities participate in voluntary campus wellness initiatives, only one university–the University of California (UC), Berkeley–has officially adopted a comprehensive, campus-wide nutrition policy, the Food and Beverage Choices (FBC) Policy. Researchers at the UC Nutrition Policy Institute and UC Berkeley collaborated with the FBC policy implementation team to publish a case report in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, presenting detailed information on the development, establishment, implementation and evaluation of the FBC policy. The report includes discussion of the challenges and barriers encountered during policy implementation and offers valuable insight for other universities seeking to develop and implement their own nutrition policies. The report was developed by Zachary Rickrode-Fernandez of Center for Environmental Health and UC Berkeley, Janice Kao of the UC Nutrition Policy Institute, and Mary Lesser and Kim Guess of UC Berkeley.