Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network (NOPREN)
NOPREN is a thematic research network of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Prevention Research Center Program. Its mission is to conduct transdisciplinary nutrition- and obesity-related policy research and evaluation along a policy change continuum (see diagram below). The work of NOPREN members will help foster understanding of the effectiveness of policies related to preventing childhood obesity through improved access to affordable, healthy foods and beverages in a variety of settings, including communities, workplaces, health care facilities, childcare institutions, and schools.
Funder: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
For more information, contact Angie Cradock.
Harvard Prevention Research Center
As the coordinating center of the Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network (NOPREN), the Harvard Prevention Research Center (HPRC) coordinates local and national efforts among the NOPREN members, national partners, and the CDC to advance science and practice regarding policy approaches to promote improved nutrition and reduced obesity. Additionally, the HPRC is conducting pilot research focused on policies related to improving access to healthy and economical beverages and reducing access to beverages of low nutritive value in Massachusetts and Maine. Current research activities include efforts to catalogue existing beverage-related policies and conduct key informant interviews with individuals in school, worksite, health care, and community settings. This pilot research work addresses four areas of policy research: 1) the identification of policies relevant to beverage access and availability; 2) the policy development process; 3) beverage-related policy content, intent and enforcement; and 4) the outcomes, direct and indirect, of policy implementation. Research will be used to develop and promote model healthy beverage policies in a variety of community settings.
Project Title: Sugar Sweetened Beverages Initiative
Principal Investigator: Steven Gortmaker, PhD
Project Manager: Angie Cradock, ScD
Policy Continuum Categories: Policy Identification, Policy Development, and Policy Evaluation and Products
University of Washington Prevention Research Center
As a participating center in NOPREN, the University of Washington Prevention Research Center (UW PRC) is conducting a pilot research project to identify the most effective methods that health departments can use to facilitate effective provision of nutrition information in local restaurants. The UW PRC will use a case-study approach to examine policy development and implementation across three local health departments that have taken different approaches to policies for nutrition information in restaurants. This pilot project has three aims: 1) to elucidate the role of local health departments in developing, implementing, and enforcing restaurant nutrition information policies; 2) to examine the relationships between restaurant owners, the Washington Restaurant Association, and the local health departments to determine political and contextual barriers and enablers of nutrition information in restaurants; 3) to identify issues of disparity and inequality related to restaurant information policies. This project will provide more information about the process of developing these “menu labeling” policies and the barriers and enhancers to outcomes of importance to public health practitioners. A literature review, key informant interviews, and in-depth interviews will inform the preparation of a community report, a policy analysis report, policy briefs, and manuscripts. The UW has also developed a Washington State NOPREN that includes interdisciplinary faculty members, public health practitioners, and policy advocates.
Project Title: The role of public health practitioners in policy development to improve the nutritional quality of restaurant food
Principal Investigator: Donna Johnson, PhD
Project Manager: Mary Podrabsky, MPH, RD
Policy Continuum Category: Policy Development
Texas A&M Prevention Research Center
As a participating center in NOPREN, the Texas A&M Prevention Research Center (TAMU PRC) is conducting a pilot research project to examine behavioral and contextual factors that influence the development, implementation, and acceptance of food store guidance policy to enable the primary family purchaser to make nutritious food choices for children and families in rural and colonia Texas border areas. The TAMU PRC will use a mixed-methods design for the following five stages of research: 1) survey consumers and food store owners/managers about types of food promoted and promotion decisions; 2) develop printed materials to be reviewed by target groups; 3) provide education sessions for consumers and food store owners/managers; 4) conduct store evaluations through interviews and observations; 5) conduct “debriefing” interviews with consumers and food store owners/managers about what food guidance means. The pilot project will build on ongoing community partnerships to focus on both traditional and nontraditional food stores patronized by limited-resource families. Results of this project will facilitate the targeting of effective policy changes into the community setting to reduce childhood obesity.
Project Title:Rural Small Store Point of Purchase
Principal Investigator: Joseph Sharkey, PhD, MPH, RD
Project Manager: Cassandra (Cassie) Johnson
Policy Continuum Category: Policy Identification
New York University Prevention Research Center
As a participating center in NOPREN, the New York University Prevention Research Center (NYU PRC) is establishing a formal, sustainable infrastructure for nutrition and obesity prevention policy work. Individuals from across the university, along with community and government partners, are creating a cohesive set of city and state-level policy recommendations focused on New York’s racial and ethnic minority communities. Initial areas of focus include menu labeling, taxes and pricing, marketing to children, and access to healthy food. The NYU NOPREN is conducting a pilot research project to evaluate how we might make menu labeling policies more effective in low-income communities. Overall, the NYU NOPREN seeks to develop a shared framework and multilevel strategies for obesity prevention tailored to the specific assets, resources, and needs of New York City and similar communities.
Project Title:Developing Obesity Policies and Understanding Calorie Labeling
Principal Investigator: Brian Elbel, PhD
Project Manager: Courtney Abrams, MA
Policy Continuum Categories: Policy Identification, Policy Development, Policy Evaluation and Products
Tulane University Prevention Research Center
As a participating center in NOPREN, the Tulane University Prevention Research Center (TU-PRC) is conducting a pilot research project to study the enablers and barriers to the creation of a healthy food retail financing program in New Orleans. The intent of this project is to increase access to healthy foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, by incentivizing full-service grocery stores and supermarkets, as well as produce and farmers’ markets, to operate in low-income, underserved neighborhoods. The three aims of this pilot project are: 1) to improve understanding of the policymaking process and the role of research in this process; 2) to inform the development and passage of future obesity prevention policies at the state and local level; 3) to provide guidance to other communities about implementing a healthy food retail financing program. The TU-PRC will use observations, written materials, and key informant interviews to address themes in four categories: 1) crucial elements to this policy’s successful enactment and implementation; 2) factors impeding this policy’s implementation; 3) stakeholder involvement in policy development; 4) lessons learned from this policy development process. The TU-PRC will prepare a case study report, which will be written to be understandable to a policy literate lay reader.
Project Title:Understanding Policy Enactment: A Case Study of the New Orleans Fresh Food Retail Incentives Program
Principal Investigator: Diego Rose, PhD
Project Manager: Vanessa Ulmer, MSc
Policy Continuum Category: Policy Development
Arkansas Prevention Research Center
As a newly funded NOPREN site, the Arkansas Prevention Research Center (AR-PRC) at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is developing a pilot research project relating to food environments within and around schools and the influence of those environments on adolescent food behaviors. Funded to join the network beginning in October 2010, the AR-PRC team is comprised of academic and community representatives.
Principal Investigator: Martha Phillips, PhD, MPH, MBA
Project Manager: Melanie Goodell, MPH
Policy Continuum Category: TBD
More information about NOPREN is available at the NOPREN website.
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Prevention and Wellness Initiative: Communities Putting Prevention to Work – Community Awards Fact Sheet, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Harvard Prevention Research Center is a member of the Prevention Research Centers Program, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cooperative agreement number 1-U48-DP-001946.