To Build a Culture of Health

The interests of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) encompass many different focus areas, including beverages; child care/preschool; food access; food and beverage marketing; menu labeling; message framing; nutrition and agriculture policy; pricing and economics; and school/after school.

Currently, RWJF is engaged in a project called “Healthy Eating Research: Building Evidence to Prevent Childhood Obesity.” There is special concern about the most at-risk populations, defined as “black, Latino, American Indian, Asian/Pacific Islander, and children who live in lower-income communities (urban, suburban, and/or rural).”

This national program supports research on strategies, both policy-related and environmentally-based, that are likely to promote healthy eating among children and, ideally, to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. These objectives will be achieved by rewarding advocates, decision-makers, and policymakers with two different kinds of grants, for figuring out the answers. The basic information is:

Healthy Eating Research issues competitive calls for proposals (CFPs) and commissions small-scale research studies and analyses on a variety of topics to solicit scientifically rigorous, solution-oriented proposals. We also develop research reviews, issue briefs, and papers that address major policy issues in childhood obesity.

The mission is to build a Culture of Health. Preference will be given to 501(c)(3) organizations, and the deadline for receipt of concept papers is June 1, 2016.

What needs to be accomplished?

To establish a research base is a high priority. In any large-scale effort, it is obviously necessary to keep track of what has been tried and what has worked. In all research, the ability of an experiment to be duplicated is crucial.

On the other hand, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. To discover the optimal balance between the two, a thorough database is a solid foundation on which to build.

One goal is to promote and realize “effective policy and environmental strategies” that will stop the childhood obesity epidemic in its tracks and send it into ignominious retreat. Of course, it is one thing to recommend a course of action, and another to transform it into national law. This is why an additional goal is to “ensure that findings are effectively communicated to inform policies.”

To back up and borrow a phrase from RWJF, what are the factors that influence healthy eating? The policy-related ones are easier to track, through bureaucracies connected with school-lunch program and similar institutionalized solutions.

Environmental factors are harder to detect and trace. There is plenty of room for theorizing about which environmental factors increase childhood obesity and which environmental factors decrease childhood obesity, but hardcore proof is not easily obtained.

Tomorrow, Childhood Obesity News takes a closer look at what might constitute a Culture of Health.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Focus Areas,”, undated
Source: “About Us,”, undated
Source: “New Connections Grants Awarded through the Healthy Eating Research Program,”, 03/09/16
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