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Arnold School of Public Health


Our Vision

Generate and communicate knowledge across the spectrum of nutrition research to optimize holistic health for all people using systems perspectives.

Goals and Objectives

  1. Build capacity to address the grand challenges in nutrition research
    1. Engage students from units across the university in a training program that exposes them the breadth of nutrition and food research
    2. Facilitate linkages with community partnerships
    3. Facilitate linkages with clinical partners
  2. Convene and facilitate research collaborations
    1. Maintain an information hub for the kinds of research perspectives and approaches used by affiliates
    2. Host annual symposium on a theme related to grand challenges
    3. Distribute a newsletter highlighting recent publications and grants of affiliates
  3. Build a local, statewide and national presence in nutrition research
    1. Identify grand challenges facing nutrition
    2. Develop a training program for students interested in the broad view of nutrition research


The Nutrition Consortium's Research Strengths

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.

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

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

Accurate measurement of dietary behavior and monitoring nutritional status are two foundational challenges in understanding and evaluating nutrition's impact on health. The Nutrition Consortium 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

The Nutrition Consortium 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 Consortium 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