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Arnold School of Public Health


Mission

Our Vision

Enhanced nutrition and health disparities research synergy


Our Mission

To create a local, state-wide, national, and global presence that establishes the University as a national leader in nutrition and health disparities by engaging with community partners, other research institutions, public agencies, and professional organizations locally and statewide and nationally.

 

Our Goals

  1. To build capacity in nutrition and health disparities research and research training through
    • collaborations within and across University units
    • infrastructure support for grant application and post-award grant management
    • mentoring of faculty, staff, students, and fellows

  2. To convene and facilitate intra-university research collaborations for externally funded research and research training by
    • developing strategic, large-scale, federally funded research and training grant applications that will establish the University as a national leader in interdisciplinary research in nutrition and health disparities
    • promoting the synergistic interaction of the University's strengths in nutrition, exercise sciences, behavioral sciences, and other disciplines toward the prevention of diseases and reduction of health disparities.

  3. To create a local, state-wide, national, and global presence that establishes the University as a national leader in nutrition and health disparities by
    • engaging with community partners, other research institutions, public agencies, and professional organizations locally and statewide and nationally.

 

The Nutrition Center's Research Strengths

Food Insecurity

Food insecurity refers to the social and economic problem of lack of food due to resource or other constraints. It is experienced when there is uncertainty about future food availability and access, insufficiency in the amount and kind of food required for health, and/or the need to use socially unacceptable ways to acquire food.
Current novel research efforts at USC include understanding:

  • How children experience food insecurity and how to assess it in children

  • Why food insecurity is so strongly associated with poor health and development outcomes

  • The ways in which social and economic contexts place households at risk of food insecurity and affect the potential to benefit from programs designed to alleviate food insecurity

  • The cumulative impact of food insecurity over the life course

  • How systems science can help identify opportunities to improve responses to food insecurity

  • The role of food insecurity in the development of obesity and chronic disease such as diabetes.

Nutrition Policy

Although nutrition impacts many short- and long-term social, economic, behavioral, and health outcomes, nutrition often has low priority on global and national development policy agendas because of overemphasis on technical solutions without adequate consideration of operations and policy.
Current novel research efforts at USC include investigation of:

  • Development and implementation of national and state regulations of the school food environment in the U.S., Mexico, Spain, Costa Rica, and South Korea

  • Sustainability of nutrition policies across presidential administrations in Guatemala

  • Capabilities for provincial and local nutrition planning in countries (i.e., Vietnam and Ethiopia) undergoing decentralization

  • Local policies for improving the school food environment in South Carolina

  • Intended and unintended impacts of providing food resources directly to children in South Carolina

  • Contextual influences on the potential to benefit from U.S. policies intended to improve food security and nutrition

Nutrition Communications

Communicating about how and why we should consume a healthy diet is challenging. How do we take advantage of the revolution in information technologies, the advancing research on framing health issues, and the innovations in product labeling to increase access to and consumption of healthy foods?

Current novel research efforts at USC include investigation of:

  • Framing of messages for behavior and policy change

  • Use of Mobile applications to communicate nutrition messages

  • Nutrition labeling

  • Cultural tailoring

Nutrition Epidemiology

Accurate measurement of dietary behavior and monitoring nutritional status are two foundational challenges in understanding and evaluating nutrition's impact on health. The Nutrition Center has resources and expertise to generate, manage, and analyze nutritional data for large and small epidemiologic studies conducted in populations or clinical settings.

The general scope of work in this area includes:

  • Quantitative evaluation of consequences and determinants of nutrition status

  • Nutritional assessment for epidemiologic studies

  • Development of methods to study nutritional assessment

Community Engagement with Vulerable Populations

The Nutrition Center is committed to community engagement and supports the model of practice-based evidence by developing research and evaluation within "real world" community contexts, with recognition that this is an essential value aimed at eliminating health disparities.

The Nutrition Center actively:

  • Builds relationships with the communities that are affected by nutrition-related issues;

  • Engages in grassroots efforts to build the capacity of communities to understand how nutritional components interact with a variety of contexts, including political, physical, economic, and social structures; and

  • Empowers communities to take greater control over common issues through collective action.

  • Examines the processes of engagement that lead to greatest impact and sustainability