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

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