Healthy Eating Research has written a number of research briefs, reviews, and syntheses on topics related to funding areas of interest. Introductions and links to the research briefs, reviews, and syntheses are provided below.
Impact of Menu Labeling on Consumer Behavior: A 2008–2012 Update (June 2013)
More and more chain restaurants and cafeterias are labeling menus to provide consumers with calorie and other information about standard menu items. This trend is driven by the adoption of menu labeling regulations and other policies by states, localities, and institutions as they seek to prevent and reduce obesity. This research review examines the recent evidence on consumers' support for providing nutrition information at the point of purchase, awareness of nutritional information, purchase intentions, and actual purchases. It builds upon findings discussed in a Healthy Eating Research synthesis released in June 2009. Policy implications and future research needs are highlighted.
Food and Beverage Marketing to Children and Adolescents: Limited Progress by 2012, Recommendations for the Future (February 2013)
The marketing of high-calorie and nutrient-poor foods and beverages is linked to overweight and obesity in the United States. American youths are still exposed to a disproportionate amount of marketing for unhealthy products across a variety of media and an examination of research and policy trends related to food and beverage marketing shows that industry self-regulation has not substantially improved children’s and adolescents’ exposure to marketing for unhealthy foods and beverages between 2006 and 2012. This research review examines recent trends in food marketing to children and adolescents, as well as policy initiatives undertaken to address the contribution of marketing practices to the childhood obesity epidemic. It builds upon the findings discussed in a Healthy Eating Research synthesis released in April 2011and brief released in October 2008. Policy implications and future research needs are highlighted.
Influence of Competitive Food and Beverage Policies on Children’s Diets and Childhood Obesity (July 2012)
Competitive foods are foods and beverages that compete with school meal programs. They are sold through vending machines, a la carte cafeteria lines, school stores and other venues. Given that the foods and beverages available in schools have a significant impact on children’s diets and their weight, it is important to understand how competitive foods and beverages are sold and consumed by students in school, as well as to identify effective strategies for improving the nutritional quality of those products. This research review, developed jointly by RWJF’s Healthy Eating Research and Bridging the Gap programs, examines the emerging evidence about the influence of competitive food and beverage policies on children’s diets and childhood obesity. It also discusses the policy implications of the published studies and identifies areas for future research.
Consumption of Sports Drinks by Children and Adolescents (June 2012)
Children’s and adolescents’ consumption of sports drinks is increasing. Given the already elevated levels of added sugar in the American diet and its detrimental impact on health, the increased consumption of sports drinks among youths in recent years is of growing concern for parents, health professionals, and public health advocates. This research review examines the evidence about children’s and adolescents’ consumption of sports drinks and the related health and policy implications.
Preventing Obesity Among Preschool Children: How Can Child-care Settings Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity? (October 2011)
The preschool years are a critically important period for developing healthy food preferences and motor skills. Since the majority of U.S. children are placed in some form of non-parental care during their preschool years, these settings provide opportunities to promote healthy eating and physical activity behaviors among preschool children. Given the widespread use of child care, an understanding of current practices relevant to nutrition and physical activity in child-care settings is needed to inform obesity prevention efforts. Prepared jointly by RWJF’s Healthy Eating Research and Active Living Research programs, this research synthesis reviews studies that have identified opportunities to promote a healthy diet and regular physical activity among preschool children. It also examines outcomes of research interventions designed to prevent obesity in child-care settings. Read the synthesis.
Food and Beverage Marketing to Children and Adolescents: An Environment at Odds with Good Health (April 2011)
Children in the United States grow up in environments saturated by food and beverage marketing, the bulk of it for foods low in nutrients and high in calories, sugars, salt and fat. Food and beverage companies reach children and adolescents using integrated marketing communications strategies, which encompass all forms of communication about products and services. This research synthesis examines recent research on U.S. trends in food and beverage marketing to children and adolescents. It builds on a Healthy Eating Researchbrief released in October 2008. The synthesis examines the growing body of research that independently assesses industry self-regulation, identifies policy implications and highlights additional research needs and opportunities. Read the synthesis.
Food Insecurity and Risk for Obesity Among Children and Families: Is There a Relationship? (April 2010)
In the United States, nearly 15 percent of households are food insecure; they have limited or uncertain access to food. This research synthesis reviews studies that examine the relationship between food insecurity and obesity in the United States, particularly involving children and families. Because of the policy implications inherent in examining this issue, the authors also assess the role that nutrition assistance programs may play in the relationship between food insecurity and obesity in the United States. Read the synthesis.
The Negative Impact of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages on Children's Health (November 2009)
Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) by adolescents and children in the United States has been linked to less healthy diets, excessive caloric intake and weight gain, increased obesity rates, and associated adverse health effects, including increased rates of type 2 diabetes in adults. This research synthesis reviews evidence regarding the health effects of SSB consumption, outlines conclusions on the basis of these investigations and suggests areas for additional research. Read the synthesis.
Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes and Public Health (July 2009)
This research brief examines the latest information on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and food pricing strategies. The brief concludes that taxes resulting in substantially higher prices of SSBs could be a powerful policy tool for curbing obesity rates by leading people to reduce consumption. Read the brief.
Menu Labeling: Does Proving Nutrition Information at the Point of Purchase Affect Consumer Behavior? (June 2009)
This research synthesis reviews studies that have examined the use of menu labeling in away-from-home food establishments, such as restaurants and cafeterias, and the potential impact of labeling on consumers' food and beverage selections. Read the synthesis.
Local School Wellness Policies: How Are Schools Implementing the Congressional Mandate? (June 2009)
The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 mandated that school districts participating in any federally reimbursed school meal programs develop a local school wellness policy by the beginning of the 2006-07 school year. This brief, published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, summarizes key results from early research on the implementation of these policies.Read the brief.
Food and Beverage Marketing to Children and Adolescents (October 2008)
This brief examines how foods and beverages are marketed to children and adolescents, how food and beverage companies encourage younger individuals to buy their products and whether limiting youth's exposure to food and beverage marketing could have benefits in preventing childhood obesity. Read the brief.
Restaurant Realities: Inequalities in Access to Healthy Restaurant Choices (July 2008)
In 2008, Americans were expected to spend $558 billion eating at restaurants. This research brief explores how access to restaurants is related to the risk for obesity and describes what studies show about inequalities in access to different types of restaurants. Read the brief.
Bringing Healthy Foods Home: Examining Inequalities in Access to Food Stores (July 2008)
Each week, the average household in the United States spends about $100 on groceries and makes two shopping trips. This research brief outlines where people shop for food, what they tend to buy and the obesity-related effects of inequalities in access to supermarkets and access to healthy foods. Read the brief.
School Foods Sold Outside of Meals (Competitive Foods) (May 2007)
Schools that provide federally reimbursed meal programs must meet federal nutrition standards. But snacks and drinks sold outside of these programs—so-called "competitive foods"—do not have to meet these requirements. This brief examines the availability of competitive foods, their nutritional content, their impact on students' food consumption and policies for improving the school food environment. Read the brief.
Promoting Good Nutrition and Physical Activity in Child-Care Settings (May 2007)
While children spend a substantial amount of time in school, more than half of kids aged 5 to 14 years are also spending time in a child-care setting. This is also an important out-of-home setting for preschool-aged children. This research brief outlines federal food programs and regulations that govern nutrition and physical activity in child-care settings—and what research has demonstrated about the nutritional quality of foods offered in child-care settings. Read the brief.