USDA Awards $2.5 Million to Study Nutrition, Obesity and Food Assistance Program Issues

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2002—In continued efforts to combat the growing problem of obesity in America and encourage more physical activity, Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced today $2.5 million in grants and cooperative agreements for research on obesity, eating patterns, food choices and food assistance programs.

“We have a growing problem with obesity and lack of exercise in this nation and this Administration continues to examine ways in which we can work together to combat these challenges,” said Veneman. “The aim of this research is to provide consumers additional information about these important health and nutrition issues.”

The projects announced today will be provided to organizations in California, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Texas and Wisconsin. They will examine:

  • diet quality in young adults and its relationship to eating pattern typologies;
  • lunch consumption of fat, total energy and fruits and vegetables by middle school students;
  • innovative practices in local Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs;
  • children’s food insecurity and its relationship to social behavioral problems and poor academic achievement;
  • coordination between WIC and Medicaid programs;
  • trends and composition of Food Stamp Program administrative costs;
  • and food assistance as a social safety net.

The complete list of awards is attached. These research projects are competitively awarded by the Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program (FANRP), administered by USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS). FANRP studies and evaluates the performance of, and issues related to, the Food Stamp Program, WIC and Child Nutrition Programs. More information about these projects can be accessed on the web at: .

Secretary Veneman and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson have been working together to address the issues of obesity, nutrition and exercise, and find ways to forge solutions. USDA and HHS have spearheaded several initiatives, including:

  • In October, the two Secretaries met with officials from the National Restaurant Association and the National Council of Chain Restaurants to discuss how the food and beverage industriescan help Americans combat obesity. This is one of several meetings with various industries and interested parties scheduled during the next several months.
  • Last week, USDA unveiled a new National Nutrient Database listing more than 6,000 food items that can be downloaded on handheld personal digital assistants, or PDAs. This new tool provides a user-friendly searchable nutrient database to provide consumers with additional information when making food decisions.
  • USDA’s "Eat Smart. Play Hard™" campaign for schools; a 48-state nutrition education program for children to encourage more physical activity and food nutrition awareness in schools.
  • USDA’s "Changing the Scene: Improving the School Nutrition Environment," an action kit for community organizers to help strengthen nutrition programs.
  • In September, Secretary Veneman began a $6 million pilot program where 100 schools have received grants to study the benefits of providing more fresh produce during the school day.
  • Earlier this year both agencies helped launch a new, reinv igorated partnership with the "5-A- Day for Better Health Campaign," which emphasizes the importance of eating at least five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
  • HHS has created the “VERB: It's What You Do" Youth Media Campaign to encourage 9 to 13 year-olds to be physically active.
  • In August Secretaries Veneman and Thompson launched a "Walk For Better Health" initiative to promote more physical activity among the federal workforce and consumers.

These types of disease prevention and health promotion campaigns underscore the Bush Administration's HealthierUS Initiative, launched by President Bush in June 2002. The campaign focuses on improving overall health through regular physical activity, proper nutrition, preventive screenings, and healthy lifestyle choices.

Overall, the President's fiscal year 2003 budget for HHS provides more than $16 billion for disease prevention programs and research for children and adults. It also provides record-level funding for USDA's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), as well as increased funding for other child nutrition programs. Last year, USDA provided more than $7 billion for activities to directly support consumption of fruits and vegetables by children and low-income families.

For more information on the HealthierUS Initiative, and for information on children's health, visit and . For details on the "VERB: It's What You Do" Youth Media campaign, go to . More information on USDA's nutrition programs can be found at .

FY 2002 FANRP Competitive Grants and Cooperative Agreement

University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, $399,943 -- Using data gathered from the largest long-term study of black adolescent females, this study will examine the relationship between patterns of dietary intakes based on food groupings and weight outcomes at three stages of adolescence.

Health Systems Research, Inc., Washington, DC, $291,052 -- This study identifies state-level efforts to support coordination between WIC programs and primary care services that are provided through Medicaid managed care.

The George Washington University, Washington, DC, $149,994 -- This study will examine food adequacy and other basic measures of well being among current and former welfare recipients in South Carolina’s Family Independence program. It will also examine patterns of food stamp use and other types of in-kind assistance.

Medical College of Georgia (MCG) Research Institute, Inc., Augusta, GA, $180,000 -- The goal of this project is to help improve dietary assessment methods by better understanding how children make mistakes when asked to recall their food intake.

Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA, $214,768 -- This study will identify whether food-insecure children are more likely than food-secure children are to exhibit social behavior problems or poor academic achievement using data on kindergarten and first grade students.

Tufts University, Boston, MA, $228,250 -- This study will examine trends in associations between obesity and eating patterns and the relative strength of the associations for different age groups.

Abt Associates, Inc., Cambridge, MA, $245,143— This project will examine the trends and composition of Food Stamp Program (FSP) administrative costs of determining household eligibility.

Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Princeton, NJ, $149,747 -- The study will address three research questions that address innovative practices in local WIC programs, circumstances behind implementation, and if they are applicable in other areas.

Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Princeton, NJ, $248,229 -- This project will examine how the new options and waivers aimed at increasing access to the Food Stamp Program are being implemented and assess their effects on participation, program operations and costs.

Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, $150,000 -- This project will identify eating pattern typologies associated with diet quality in young adults and examine the linkages between the identified eating pattern typologies and socioeconomic, demographic and lifestyle characteristics as well as the associations among eating patterns, overall diet quality and obesity.

Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, $179,396 -- The goal of this project is to document middle school students' consumption of meals provided by the National School Lunch Program, snack bars and vending machines; weight status; and lunch consumption of fat, total energy and fruits and vegetables.

University of Wisconsin at Madison, Madison, WI, $100,000 -- This study will investigate the relationship between household and community food security by analyzing inter-state variations between New York and Wisconsin in USDA measures of food insecurity.

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