New video, infographics, and photos highlight deficiencies in the current U.S. food supply

The dietary recommendations for eating healthy have not changed much in the past few decades—eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and cut back on calories, sugar, and fat. However, it might not be possible for everyone to eat this way even if they tried.

A new study, published in the November issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, reveals that the food supply contains too much sodium, unhealthy fat, and added sugar and not enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for a balanced diet. The findings show that in order to achieve a healthy balance, the fruit supply would need to more than double and the supply of vegetables would need to increase by almost 50 percent. There would also have to be a 40 percent decrease in unhealthy fats and sugar, and more than a 50 percent decrease in sodium. Continue reading

Chat with NCCOR about childhood obesity on Sept. 9

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Today, nearly one out of three kids in America are overweight or obese. The numbers are even higher in the African American and Hispanic communities. Overweight and obese kids are at risk for a host of chronic obesity-related health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma.

In observance of Childhood Obesity Awareness Month in September, join the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research for a Twitter Chat on Sept. 9, at 2 pm, ET.

We’ll be using the hashtag #childobesitychat.

Hosted by NCCOR (@NCCOR) alongside the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (@NICHD_NIH) and National Cancer Institute (@theNCI), we’ll discuss risk factors, research, and promising strategies. Most importantly, we’ll direct you to valuable resources.

In addition, NCCOR members Layla Esposito, Ph.D., and April Oh, Ph.D., M.P.H., of NICHD and NCI, respectively, will serve as our subject matter experts and help guide the discussion.

“It’s a great opportunity to be a part of the social media conversation around childhood obesity,” said Dr. Oh.

“Working with NCCOR to engage with researchers, practitioners, and the broader public about childhood obesity using the interactive Twitter platform is a dynamic way to communicate health and disseminate information,” she added.

Please include #childobesitychat in your tweets and follow @NCCOR for more information. Also, register for our chat at http://twtvite.com/childobesitychat.

Tweet you soon!

NCCOR brings together four of the nation’s leading research funders – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and application of childhood obesity research and accelerate progress in reducing childhood obesity.  

NCCOR presents on webinar for Children’s Hospital Association

The National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) was invited to speak on a July 31 childhood obesity-focused webinar, one in a series produced by the Children’s Hospital Association.

“Resources for Researchers – An Overview of NCCOR” began with a welcome and remarks from Ms. Karen Seaver Hill, the Association’s director for child health advocacy. The Association advances child health through innovation in the quality, cost, and delivery of care.

NCCOR Project Director Todd Phillips, M.S., provided an overview of NCCOR’s mission, goals, and primary activities, and shared key ways the Collaborative supports clinicians’ and other practitioners’ work. Continue reading

SNAP-Ed Toolkit adds 30 new resources

In 2013, the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) helped the U.S. Department of Agriculture compile the first edition the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) Toolkit. The toolkit includes comprehensive, evidence-based, obesity prevention resources and interventions, as well as nutrition and physical activity strategies that can be readily adopted by SNAP-Ed agencies and states.

In May 2014, NCCOR and USDA released an updated version of the toolkit which includes 30 additional resources and interventions, and highlights those interventions with helpful designations: “research-tested,” “practice-tested,” or “emerging.” Continue reading

AJPH highlights systems science applications in obesity research

Obesity is arguably the most pressing public health problem of our time. Over 3 billion children and adults worldwide are expected to be counted among the overweight and obese population in less than two decades. Substantial efforts by the public health community have focused on addressing the problem, but in order to implement effective solutions, a greater understanding of the complexities associated with obesity is needed. Through a special issue, the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH, July 2014) is showcasing cutting edge research in this area.

“This theme issue highlights some of the work that is being done in obesity research using systems science approaches,” Dr. Regina Bures said of the special edition, titled Using Systems Science in Obesity Research. Bures is program officer in the Center for Population Research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and served as a guest editor for the AJPH theme issue. Continue reading

NCCOR explores recent childhood obesity declines research in new webinar

Recent data has shown that childhood obesity rates are falling in many communities across the nation. In the latest installment of its Connect & Explore Webinar Series, the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) is examining the implications of this research, discussing lessons learned from public health leaders in communities experiencing these declines, and considering how these findings can be applied.

Join us at 2 pm, Eastern, on Thursday, June 12, for Connect & Explore: A Deeper Dive into Childhood Obesity Declines.

In just under an hour, we will: explore recent data showing declines in childhood obesity rates; hear insights from representatives of communities where childhood obesity decreases have been reported; and learn how to translate these findings for policy makers and the public. Speakers include: Continue reading

Accessing the Catalogue of Surveillance Systems and Measures Registry is even easier

The National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) website has a new look! The website features a redesigned homepage and new navigation tabs which make it even easier to locate NCCOR projects, resources, and tools including the Catalogue of Surveillance Systems and Measures Registry. The Catalogue and Measures Registry project pages have been updated to make accessing the tools and relevant resources simple and straightforward. Additionally, the tools themselves have undergone extensive usability testing and have been revised and reformatted to make finding data easier and faster. Continue reading

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