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Getting youth to drink water, not sugar

young man drinking a bottle of water with the text "drink water." Text at the bottom "Make the healthy choice. Give your body the water it needs" NY State Department of HealthResearchers from the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research helped inform new public service advertisements created by the New York Department of Health to educate youth about the dangers of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Researchers working on the ACT for Youth project conducted two rounds of focus groups in the summer/fall of 2017 and spring of 2018 to test possible messages that would encourage young minority males to avoid sugar-sweetened beverages.

“The story demonstrates our ability to conduct research with youth across the state in order to help NYSDOH better serve and reach youth, ultimately helping—we hope-- to improve health,” said Karen Schantz, the communications coordinator for ACT For Youth.

A significant number of youth drink sugary beverages regularly. In one study conducted from 2011-2014, more than 60 percent of adolescent boys drank a sugar-sweetened beverage each day. This is alarming considering there is clear evidence that these beverages are associated with obesity, poor dental health and other health problems.

Amanda Purington, the director of evaluation and research for ACT for Youth, managed the focus groups. In them, groups of adolescent boys from western and central New York answered questions about the definition of “sugary” beverages and how much they consumed, and then evaluated sample ads created to encourage youth to avoid sweetened beverages.

“Many of the young people we talked with thought that sports drinks were healthy drinks and if they engaged in an athletic endeavor, they needed to drink them to replace electrolytes,” Purington said. “So, unfortunately, the marketing by the sports drink companies is working! On the whole, the youth were surprised by the amount of sugar in sports drinks because they really thought they were healthy drinks.”

Youth preferred ads with information, such as the amount of sugar in different kinds of sugary drinks. The most well-received ads struck a balance between providing information and delivering that information in a clear, concise – and often visual – way.

“They also liked having alternatives suggested, like ‘quench your thirst with water instead,’” she said. “But they didn’t just want to be told what to do, they wanted to come to their own conclusions.

“They also wisely acknowledged that a media campaign like this might lead to some short-term behavior change, but may not lead to long-term behavior change, especially in communities where sugary beverages are ingrained in the culture.”

The New York State Department of Health’s media campaign is now live.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: ACT for Youth    Amanda Purington    children    focus group    government    health    Karen Schantz    New York    nutrition    research    youth   

Improving the health of military families

BPC_150909_c_AR2_ExecutiveSummary.inddBy Sheri Hall for the BCTR

BCTR researchers have spent two years helping to improve the health and wellness of military members and their families.

The BCTR’s Military Projects team partnered with researchers from the Cornell Office for Research on Evaluation (CORE) to measure outcomes from the Healthy Base Initiative, a short-term project to demonstrate how healthy eating, exercise, and tobacco cessation can improve the lives of active service members and their families. The results were published earlier this year.

Their work was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Defense.

The Department of Defense launched the project at 14 pilot sites across the world. First, they assessed the health and wellness of the military community at each site, then they implemented a variety of initiatives designed to improve health and wellness, such as fitness programs, menu labeling, cooking seminars, and tobacco cessation campaigns.

BCTR and CORE researchers worked with the Department of Defense Military Community & Family Policy and other researchers to evaluate which initiatives worked the best to help military families lead healthier lifestyles and develop conclusions that will inform a larger wellness initiative across the Department of Defense.

“Health care costs continue to be a large and rapidly growing part of the military budget and include the cost associated with active duty service members and their families as well as military members in the reserve components, retirees, and veterans,” explained Brian Leidy, senior extension associate at the BCTR and director of Military Projects. “Just like in the civilian population, metabolic diseases which are largely preventable through proper diet, exercise, and avoiding tobacco play a major role in the acceleration of these costs.”

The project identified a wide range of recommendations such as encouraging different service branches within the military to work together on health and fitness initiatives, finding ways to offer more healthy food options within military communities, offering childcare while adults exercise or participate in wellness activities, and creating more tobacco-free areas.

You can read the full list of recommendations in the Healthy Base Initiative executive summary and full report.





(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Brian Leidy    evaluation    exercise    family    health    military    Military Projects    nutrition    publication    smoking   

Doing Translational Research podcast: Carol Devine, Sunday, September 15, 2019

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Doing Translational Research podcast: Carol Devine

Monday, February 22, 2016

Carol Devine
Division of Nutritional Science, Cornell University

Monday, February 22, 2016

Carol Devine
Division of Nutritional Science, Cornell University

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Carol Devine    doing translational research    nutrition    podcast   

Talks at Twelve: Elaine Wethington and Carol Devine, Monday, February 22, 2016


Large and Small Life Events among Overweight and Obese Black and Latino Adults in a Behavior Change Trial
Elaine Wethington, Human Development, Sociology, and BCTR, and Carol Devine, Division of Nutritional Sciences

Monday, February 22, 2016
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room

It is widely believed that stressor exposure can negatively affect health. However, the impact of stressors on health behaviors is not well understood. Professors Wethington and Devine developed an interval life events (ILE) measurement method, which assesses exposure to both major stressors (life events) and minor stressors (hassles), for use in clinical trials or observational studies. They evaluated this method in the Small Changes and Lasting Effects (SCALE) trial. SCALE is a community-based intervention promoting small changes in diet and physical activity among overweight and obese African-American and Hispanic adults to discover how stressors interfere with behavior change or trial participation. In their talk Wethington and Devine will report on their findings.

Professor Elaine Wethington (human development; sociology; Weill Cornell Medicine) studies stress and social support processes across the life course. She is co-principal investigator on SCALE, a weight loss intervention with low income Black and Latino adults in New York City, and co-director and MPI for the Translational Research Institute for Pain in Later Life (TRIPLL).

Professor Carol Devine, Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell, studies how food choices over the life course are shaped by life transitions, social roles, and the lived environment. She is co-investigator on SCALE.

This talk is open to all. Lunch will be served. Metered parking is available in the Plantations lot across the road from Beebe Hall. No registration or RSVP required except for groups of 5 or more. We ask that larger groups email Patty at letting us know of your plans to attend so that we can order enough lunch.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: BCTR Talks at Twelve    Carol Devine    Elaine Wethington    nutrition   

New USDA-funded nutrition center with BCTR ties

CCE nutrition demo at an NYC farmer's market (file photo)

CCE nutrition demo at an NYC farmer's market (file photo)

A new federally-funded Cornell center will study how simple changes to schools, communities, and workplaces could help people live healthier and boost the success of long-running nutrition education programs for low-income families. The center will be led by Jamie Dollahite, professor of nutritional sciences.

The Northeast Regional Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Center of Excellence, based in Cornell’s Division of Nutritional Sciences and funded by a two-year, $856,250 award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Food and Nutrition Service, unites multidisciplinary researchers, extension leaders and community partners to address socio-ecological factors contributing to obesity. One of five sites established by a $4 million USDA grant, Cornell’s center is a hub for 12 states, from Maine to Virginia, coordinating research and testing interventions primarily through the national Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).

In addition to carrying out this signature research program, the center will issue sub-awards for projects in the Northeast to test community-based interventions and build a network for disseminating findings to the public and throughout the extension system.

Dollahite noted that the center will also focus on building evidence for the effectiveness of programs serving low-income populations. In 2013 nutrition education programs delivered through Cornell Cooperative Extension reached more than 175,000 under-served families across New York.

Cornell won the USDA funding in a competitive grant process carried out last summer. Dollahite believes the university succeeded thanks to “strong existing research and extension programs” and a “diverse team of researchers representing nutrition, health economics, behavioral economics, health communications, and community-based nutrition education.”

“Our steering and advisory committees include nationally recognized experts from Cornell, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Tufts and other top institutions, including all of the land-grant institutions in our region,” she added.

Jennifer Tiffany

Jennifer Tiffany

In support of these goals, Jennifer Tiffany (BCTR director of outreach and community engagement) will serve on the  research advisory committee, guiding the project's steering committee and helping identify gaps in the evidence base and proposing methods for pursuing projects designed to fill these gap. This work will draw on Tiffany's extensive experience in community-based health education and research and be supported by her connections throughout the university. In addition to her position in the BCTR, she serves as associate director of Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE), associate director for outreach and extension within the College of Human Ecology, and executive director of CCE’s NYC Programs.

Debbie Sellers

Debbie Sellers

The BCTR's director of research and evaluation Debbie Sellers will serve as the evaluation specialist for the project and will be a member of the steering committee.

The new center promises to increase collaboration between researchers and practitioners across the region. It will contribute to national obesity prevention efforts, and provide new opportunities to remedy gaps in the evidence-base.

USDA designates Cornell as obesity prevention hub - Cornell Chronicle

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Debbie Sellers    Jennifer Tiffany    media mention    nutrition   

Research Synthesis Project releases first sytematic translational reviews

The BCTR Research Synthesis Project released its first two systematic translational reviews (STRs) this spring. The first identified validated measures of youth nutrition program outcomes, and the second examined the concept of “engagement” in university-community partnerships. These two STRs are the result of a new research synthesis protocol designed to include practitioner input in the review process while maintaining the structure of a systematic review and speed of a rapid review. The method was developed by Research Synthesis Project director Mary Maley to improve the accessibility and use of research evidence by community practitioners and policy makers. Review topics focus on applied practice questions which require a synopsis of evidence to use in order to strengthen program implementation. More about the STR process can be found here.

Psycho-Social Evaluation Measures for 8-12 year-olds in Nutrition Education Programs explores the question, "Which validated surveys measure changes in nutrition knowledge, attitudes, behavioral intent and self-efficacy among 8-12-year-olds in nutrition education programs?" The reviewers found that there wasn't a singular measure to recommend across programs, but that practitioners should select the best fit for their program from the identified validated measures.

The second STR considers, "How is “Community Engagement” described and operationalized in practice?" Community Engagement in Practice concludes that empirical literature does "not reflect a consistent meaning of the term, or the activities associated with it," but suggests ways that both program practitioners and researchers can address and remedy this ambiguity.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Mary Maley    nutrition    research    Research Synthesis Project    systematic translational reviews   

Reduce your salt intake, help your heart

"Salt makes our food taste, well, delicious. It’s found in nearly everything we eat – from soups, to baked goods to meats and cheeses. Most adults consume between 6 and 12 grams of salt per day, even though health organizations recommend intake less than 5 grams per day."

Read the rest of this post on the Evidence-Based Living blog:

Reduce your salt intake, help your heart

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Evidence-Based Living    nutrition   

Rising food star credits 4-H with sparking his interest in nutrition

Tags: 4-H,   international,   nutrition,   students,  

Rising food star, world traveler, and humanitarian Lazarus Lynch is a graduate of the Food and Finance High School (FFHS) in New York City where he studied culinary arts, financial management, and nutrition. In the summer of his freshman year of high school, Lazarus worked as an intern for Cornell University Cooperative Extension as an Assistant Nutrition and Health Educator. In his senior year of high school, he launched a three-day Hunger & Health Conference educating hundreds of students of the extremities of hunger and poverty in the world.

Lazarus credits many of his successes and opportunities to the 4-H Youth Development Program.  He attended 4-H's annual Career Explorations events in 2010 and 2012.  In 2010, he was a part of the Youth Grow and Nutrition Program, which confirmed his decision to study dietetics and nutrition in college. In 2012 he participated as a Focused Assistant, leading his group Thinking like a Scientist to their everyday workshops and activities. Lazarus will be the keynote speaker at 2013 Career Explorations.

In 2010, Lazarus was one of four New York State students to attend the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute in Des Moines, Iowa. As a 2011 World Food Prize Borlaug~Ruan intern, Lazarus spent that summer studying at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing, China where he explored food security and nutrition issues and conducted advanced genetics research with Chinese researchers. Lazarus has served as a member of the National Brand Advisory Team, using his knowledge and skills to implement new marketing strategies for 4-H.

Through his two blogs and weekly contribution to his school’s newspaper, Lazarus has inspired people all across the world to eat, cook, and live healthy lives. In his near future, Lazarus wants to be an author, dietician, TV personality, and restaurateur. Lynch has been named the next big food star by one of Food Network’s hosts. He has continued in his traveling career during his freshman year of college, when he recently traveled to Rwanda to gather research on genocide prevention to create a theater production on conflict resolution. Lazarus’ goal is to one day lead the effort to eradicate global world hunger and promote healthy eating.

Lazarus attends Buffalo State College where he studies Nutrition, Music, and Theater.

Lazarus' blogs:

Lazarus in Rwanda

Lazarus E. Lynch

(1) Comment.  |   Tags: 4-H    international    nutrition    students   

New evidence about the federal food stamps program

"Nearly 45 million American receive help purchasing food each year through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly called food stamps. Here on EBL, we’ve written about the federal program in the past, specifically how it helps keep families out of poverty.

"Now a new report from the National Academies of Sciences Institute of Medicine examines the evidence to determine if SNAP benefits provide sufficiently for the families they serve."

Read more at the Evidence-Based Living blog:

New evidence about the federal food stamps program

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Evidence-Based Living    nutrition   

The murky evidence on saturated fat

"For decades, it has been accepted as truth that eating foods high in saturated fats such as full-fat milk products and fatty cuts of meat — lead to an increased risk of heart disease. Yet a small but growing body of evidence is raising questions about whether reducing saturated fat intake impacts health outcomes."

Read more on the Evidence-Based Living blog:

The murky evidence on saturated fat

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Evidence-Based Living    health    nutrition