The conference was hosted by UC ANR's Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI), California Department of Public Health, California Department of Education, the California Endowment and Kaiser Permanente.
NPI hosted a preconference workshop on June 29 to bridge the gap between research and policy regarding the federal nutrition assistance programs and the Dietary Guidelines, which reach more Americans than any other nutrition policy.
At the opening plenary, Chelsea Clinton, vice president of The Clinton Foundation, talked about projects her family's foundation is involved in to improve children's health and literacy.
Hecht moderated a conversation on policy between former Iowa Senator Tom Harkin and USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon. The two influential figures discussed the growth of the federal nutrition assistance programs over 40 years and reflected on obstacles overcome and successes achieved.
Hecht also moderated a panel discussion on local and national initiatives that are linking farm-fresh produce to food bank recipients. NPI researcher Elizabeth Campbell, who participated in the discussion with a local farmer, a food bank employee and a public health anti-hunger advocate, said food banks should have policies to guide the nutritional quality of their inventory.
During the closing plenary, First Lady Michelle Obama sent video greetings to the Childhood Obesity Conference attendees to praise them for their work and encourage them to continue to fight to protect and improve child health.
“It is public research universities like the University of California that can and will help lead the way as our nation grapples with this complex challenge of pediatric obesity,” Napolitano said. She then gave a few examples of UC projects that target social and environmental factors that contribute to overweight and obesity.
“Janet Napolitano is the first UC president to speak at the Childhood Obesity Conference,” said Ritchie. “I think it demonstrates her commitment to the Global Food Initiative and the work we do at UC ANR.”
Since the biennial conference's inception, Crawford and members of the Atkins Center for Weight and Health at UC Berkeley, and more recently members of NPI, have been involved in its planning. Crawford announced she is “passing the baton” to Ritchie to guide the conference moving forward.
PowerPoint presentations from the conference are online at http://www.childhoodobesity2015.com/bios.cfm?pid=902. Photos and postconference information can be seen on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #COC15.