Research in Brief
Prevention Research Centers Support Goals of National Nutrition Month
Prevention Research Centers (PRCs) conduct research that supports National Nutrition Month, which is sponsored every March by the American Dietetic Association. Several PRCs are researching policy approaches and environmental changes to improve people’s access to nutritious foods. Communities may lack supermarkets or other outlets for fresh produce, and residents may not have transportation to places that do have these outlets. Residents may be limited to local fast-food restaurants or corner markets that tend to offer food high in calories, sugar, fat, or salt. The PRCs work with partners on strategies that make it easier for people to make healthier food choices. Here are a few examples:
Researchers at the Case Western Reserve University Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods are collaborating with inner-city neighborhoods in Cleveland, Ohio, on structural and economic changes to food distribution systems and land-use policy. They are researching how these neighborhoods can use food cooperatives and community gardens to produce fruits and vegetables that corner stores can afford to purchase and, in turn, sell to residents at affordable prices.
At the Texas A&M Health Science Center’s Center for Community Health Development, researchers are working with rural communities in south and east-central Texas to assess the areas’ food distribution systems, such as stores, charities, farmers’ markets, and schools. The researchers and community members are using the findings to develop policies that can promote and enable healthy eating.
Other PRCs research policy changes and environmental strategies to increase healthy eating among people who have access to nutritious food. For example,
- The Harvard University Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity: Researchers are developing a tool kit that can guide the organizers of after-school programs on how to introduce healthy snacks and drinks, as well as encourage physical activity. See Improving Nutrition and Physical Activity at Neighborhood After-School Programs.
- The Ohio State University Prevention Research Center: Community leaders are identifying the types of social and environmental support efforts that help parents address childhood overweight. See Understanding Healthy Eating in Early Childhood.
For more information on these and other nutrition-related projects, go to the Research Projects page and search Health Topics for “Nutrition & physical activity for adults” and “Nutrition & physical activity for youth.”