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Carolina Population Center Fellows Funded to Evaluate Food and Nutrition Policies

April 9, 2018
Carolina Population Center

A team of researchers led by W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Nutrition Barry M. Popkin has been awarded funding provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies to study food purchasing patterns, diets and health and how government policies about these can impact human health. Work is underway in Mexico and Chile in evaluating major food and nutrition policies, and the team is working with a number of other countries related to design and evaluations of fiscal, marketing, front-of-the-package labeling and other national regulatory actions to improve diets.

The project is called Program and Policy Options for Preventing Obesity in Low, Middle and Transitional Income Countries: Background Research and Program Evaluation. The project is administered by the Carolina Population Center (CPC) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The project was initially funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies beginning in 2016. The total award is for $21,550,000 through 2020.

Popkin is a CPC Faculty Fellow and a global leader in understanding and evaluating policies and their impact on nutrition and health. Shu Wen Ng is an associate professor and Lindsey Smith Taillie is a research assistant professor in the UNC-Chapel Hill Department of Nutrition; both are also CPC Faculty Fellows.

The Global Food Research Program of UNC-Chapel Hill at the Carolina Population Center will work with research partners in low and middle income countries to assist in the design and impact evaluation of large-scale regulatory actions used to improve the food purchasing patterns, diets and health of individuals in each country.

An evaluation advisory group of global leaders in this area has been created to review proposals and papers and meet annually to review the design and research conducted by the Carolina team and their in-country collaborators. This five-year effort includes bringing promising students from each collaborating country for doctoral degrees, travel to the other countries and their travel here.

The priorities of this effort are to learn ultimately whether certain policies on unhealthy foods and beverages, including taxes and subsidies, marketing controls, front-of-package labeling and school food availability, as well as other unforeseen impactful large-scale actions will improve the diets overall and across subpopulations in low and middle-income countries, and help address inequities and health disparities.

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