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  • The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science
  • Initiatives

    The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science develops and conducts specific initiatives to connect nutrition science to other disciplines in public health and advocate for the use of scientific evidence in decision making.

    • Every Child’s Potential: A Call to Action and Policy Brief

    Five actions for policy makers and program implementers to deliver better interventions in the first 1,000 days and beyond.

    The evidence is overwhelming: supporting early child development needs to be considered holistically despite multiple obstacles, including disciplinary siloes and fragmented implementation channels. The challenge now is to communicate this evidence in support of integration, without omitting the nuances related to contexts, expectations, timing, and capacities, nor the remaining knowledge gaps.

    The Sackler Institute created this Policy Brief, with support from a scientific advisory group, to pull out key actionable messages from research on nutrition and early child development, and bring these messages to the attention of program implementers and policy-makers. The five actions to support early child development (ECD) are grounded in the findings of the latest research on ECD, which were pulled together in a 2014 volume of Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences that highlights the existing scientific evidence related to nutrition and early child development.

    To download the Policy Brief, please go to www.nyas.org/ChildNutrition-Policy

    • Technical Consideration for Fortification in Public Health: Expert Consultation in Partnership with the World Health Organization

    Presenting and discussing scientific evidence and remaining knowledge gaps in relation to food fortification programs.

    The World Health Organization is partnering with the Sackler Institute and Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences to host technical consultations and publish scientific articles exploring the multiple technical aspects of food fortification, such as potential public health impact based on consumption trends, stability and shelf life, risk-benefit analysis, etc. Two volumes of Annals dedicated to this topic are currently available:

    Technical Considerations for Maize Flour and Corn Meal Fortification in Public Health

    Technical Considerations for Rice Flour Fortification in Public Health

    • Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases: What Do Experts Think?

    Scope of National Chronic Disease Prevention Priorities in the United States

    Chronic disease (CD) and disability account for nearly half of the US burden of disease. Risk factors driving CD respond to behavior change interventions, yet, decisive action on evidence from interventions targeting modifiable risks is limited. In 2013, the Sackler Institute was awarded an 18-month research grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to describe the perceived priorities and challenges of chronic disease prevention in the United States. The research focused on several major risk factors: tobacco use, obesity, diabetes, physical inactivity, salt intake, mental health, and suboptimal medication adherence.

    Utilizing both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, the research was conducted in three phases. Phase 1 consisted of a literature review and analysis of interventions. Research articles were evaluated to summarize evidence on the effectiveness of information/communication technology (Internet, cell phone, personal digital assistant, and social media) to improve major risk factors for CDs.

    Phase 2 consisted of 74 one-on-one interviews with experts from all sectors. These interviews surfaced eight reoccurring themes that were then presented in an online platform for the community-at-large to comment on. Select interviewees, leading researchers, and policy makers were invited to a workshop in September 2014 to prioritize CD prevention approaches and rank prevention strategies.

    Expert interviews produced several reemerging themes: inadequate political will, difficulty of sustained behavior change, and industry resistance to change (due to misaligned incentives, lack of access to information/tools, and too much focus on treatment). The online platform echoed these themes, emphasizing the importance of return on investment and exposing polarizing views on the effectiveness of food industry regulation. Barriers cited included lack of financial incentives to healthcare providers, inadequate community participation, and poorly targeted public communication. Anonymous questionnaires highlighted changes to the physical environment as an opportunity to affect nutrition related outcomes. These results showcase different perceptions of both priorities and strategies to reduce risk for CD. Consensus on a unified, prioritized agenda with broad multi-sectoral commitment needs to be built.

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