NCCOR Member Meeting panel offers insights

The most recent National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) Member Meeting, held on April 3, featured a lunchtime panel to discuss possible factors contributing to recently reported childhood obesity declines and related topics.

The event sparked an engaging discussion among members as the panel offered thoughts on what areas the Collaborative might focus on over the next five years. The meeting was the first since NCCOR celebrated its 5th birthday in February.

The panelists were:

  • Hank Cardello, Senior Fellow and Director, Obesity Solutions Initiative, The Hudson Institute
  • Jessica Donze Black, Director, Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods, The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Tracy Fox, President, Food, Nutrition & Policy Consultants, LLC

Moderator Elaine Arkin of NCCOR and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation moderated the discussion, which included questions from NCCOR members.

All three panelists agreed that the recent declines indicate complementary shifts are occurring—that changes in food systems are being complemented by environmental and cultural shifts. Actions taken by the policy, industry, personal, and environmental sectors are beginning to have an impact. “Personal responsibility is being complemented by corporate responsibility and government responsibility,” said Fox.

The group also remarked that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been important in clarifying the link between obesity and increased health care costs.

The new statistics on declines in childhood obesity look good overall and are the beginning of what researchers would have hoped to see, given the increase in efforts for children ages 2-5 in recent years, they said. A panelist acknowledged changes in the composition of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food packages as a potential contributing factor, for example. Even so, the panel noted the numbers mask distinct differences across subpopulations.

The panel reminded NCCOR that food marketing is still an enormous challenge. The food industry has specifically targeted certain groups, including children and minority groups. Also, marketing techniques have evolved significantly and now go far beyond traditional television marketing to encompass social media and other digital platforms such as games on mobile devices. To continue making headway, marketing unhealthy foods and beverages to children must be addressed.

In thinking about NCCOR’s next five years, the panel closed by listing several activities NCCOR may consider and adopt.

  • Find ways to replicate successes for populations and groups not currently experiencing declines.
  • Replicate successful natural experiments underway and figure out dynamic ways to communicate results.
  • Demonstrate and communicate what’s working using language that can be accessed by diverse groups, and frame results in ways that make groups act.
  • Communicate return-on-investment factors and “build the business case. It’s essential,” said Cardello, to educate businesses on how obesity declines benefit them.
  • “Let’s protect the really good policies we have in place right now,” said Donze Black, explaining that personal stories often impact legislative decisions. Thus, clear research findings accompanied by individual accounts can be very effective.

For its five-year anniversary, NCCOR debuts interactive annual report

Five years ago the nation’s leading research funders — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and U.S. Department of Agriculture — came together in a common mission to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and application of childhood obesity research and formed the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR).

In recognition of the contributions NCCOR has made over the past five years, the Collaborative has a new online format for their annual report featuring audio testimonials from researchers and childhood obesity experts, as well as videos and other interactive design features. Continue reading

NCCOR releases new FPED fact sheet and webpage

The National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) has recently released an updated webpage and new fact sheet for the Food Patterns Equivalents Database (FPED).

FPED is an essential resource for any researcher or nutritionists interested in examining food intakes in a standardized way.  The FPED fact sheet and webpage are valuable companion pieces to the existing documentation for FPED available on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website. Continue reading

NCCOR celebrates its five-year anniversary, debuts Connect & Explore webinar series

After decades of increases, there are finally signs that childhood obesity rates are declining across the United States. For the past five years, the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) has been at the center of research and evaluation work to turn the tide against the epidemic.

In celebration of its five-year anniversary in February, NCCOR is launching Connect & Explore, an external webinar series for researchers, practitioners, and others interested in conducting or applying childhood obesity research.

Join us at 2 pm, Eastern, on Thurs., Feb. 13, for Connect & Explore: Five Years of Accelerating Progress Through Childhood Obesity Research, the first of three webinars planned this year. The other two webinars in our 2014 series will take place on June 12 and Oct. 9. Continue reading

NCCOR Envision members help inform new recommendations on managing children’s weight

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), part of the Department of Health in the United Kingdom, recently issued new guidance on managing overweight and obesity in children through lifestyle weight management services.

The National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) Envision members Tim Marsh and Martin Brown, in collaboration with additional researchers, helped inform this guidance by conducting economic modeling to determine the level at which these interventions would be cost effective and add to the quality of life and health of children. Continue reading

Fighting childhood obesity one school cafeteria at a time

May 10, 2013, ABC News

By Lisa Stark

In the fight against childhood obesity, the weapons have been many. Schools have tried exercise and education, and the government has mandated healthier school lunches. Now a school district in Virginia is believed to be the first in the country to try something radical —redesigning the school building, itself.

“It’s not completely out of thin air,” said public health expert Terry Huang, who helped spearhead the project, [and is a member of an expert scientific panel for the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR)]. “It is rooted in a long history of reinventing school designs to promote learning and mental well-being. We simply took that one step further.”

The result is a new elementary school for 970 kindergarteners through fifth-graders that opened this school year in rural Buckingham County, Va. From the ground up, the school is designed to promote activity and healthy eating. Continue reading

New podcast explores ways to halt the childhood obesity epidemic

Recently, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a funder of the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research, asked consulting firm The Greatest Good to put together a brainstorming session on childhood obesity.

The session was taped for podcast on the radio series “Freakanomics” called “100 Ways to Fight Obesity.” The discussion explores the biological, behavioral, political, and economic angles of obesity and features a panel of leaders in the childhood obesity field. Continue reading

New NCCOR project translates research into applications for the Healthy Eating Index

In April, NCCOR launched a series of new communication tools and technologies that translate and disseminate research applications of the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) for researchers, practitioners, and decision makers and ultimately highlight changes needed to enable healthier food choices for all Americans.

The HEI is a tool designed to measure diet quality—that is, how closely an eating pattern or combination of foods matches the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations. It was developed by scientists at two of NCCOR’s funding partners: the U.S. Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion; and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Applied Research Program, part of the National Institutes of Health. Continue reading

NCCOR members recognized for innovative work

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM) announced its awardees of the first Childhood Obesity Challenge this week. Several members of the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) were recognized for their “innovative ideas to combat the childhood obesity epidemic.” Continue reading