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April 24, 2013

Johns Hopkins Global Center for Childhood Obesity Funds Projects to Improve School Nutrition Programs and Increase Sale of Health Foods in Urban Areas

The Johns Hopkins Global Center on Childhood Obesity has awarded funding to two intervention projects aimed at preventing childhood obesity. The research is part of the third round of funding focused on “rapid response projects.”

The Global Center on Childhood Obesity reviewed research proposals from around the world and selected the following:

Using Point of Sale (POS) Systems to Measure Changes in Purchases Before and After Environmental Interventions in Corner Stores

Principal Investigator: Allison Karpyn, PhD, The Food Trust, Philadelphia, Pa.
The Food Trust, through a partnership with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s ―Get Healthy Philly program, has been at the forefront of a growing national movement to increase healthy food access in corner stores in low-income urban areas as an environmental strategy to reduce obesity. In 2012, The Food Trust worked with owners at five corner stores to install point of sale (POS) systems to measure product sales. The overall goal for this pilot study is to evaluate the efficacy of environmental interventions on corner store purchases, using the POS system.

This spring, The Food Trust and the Department of Public Health will implement a new Healthy Corner Store Certification policy, along with physical renovations to the store environment that will employ marketing and pricing strategies to increase healthier food and beverage sales. The Food Trust will utilize POS data from corner stores to examine customers’ purchases, before and after implementation of policy and environmental interventions. These analyses will add to an understanding of the impact of corner stores on shopping patterns, dietary intake, and on overweight and obesity, leading to more informed decisions for implementing policies for childhood obesity prevention in underserved areas.

Examining the Outcomes of Collaborative Networks to Improve School Nutrition Environments

Principal Investigator: Donna Johnson, PhD, Department of Health Services, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash.
Across the United States, school districts are working to improve failing wellness policies. In King County Washington, the county health department is funding a School Learning Network (SLN) that supports district nutrition directors in developing new school system food policies. This project will apply social network analysis to determine: the extent to which the SLN fosters the development of ties between directors and the characteristics of those ties; the extent to which the position of the directors in the network and the strength of their ties is related to the quality of district wellness policy revisions; and how best practices are diffused through the network. Data will be collected in the spring/summer of 2013 and one year later in 2014.

The Johns Hopkins Global Center for Childhood Obesity was established with a $16 million U54 cooperative agreement from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Global Center for Childhood Obesity emphasizes the integration of geospatial analysis with a systems science and transdisciplinary approach to childhood obesity, bringing together basic science, epidemiology, nutrition, medicine, engineering, and environmental and social policy research, among other fields, in an unprecedented, innovative way.

The Center will fund approximately 4 to 5 new research projects each year over the next several years.

For more information about the Johns Hopkins Global Center for Childhood Obesity, visit http://www.jhgcco.org

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health media contact: Tim Parsons at 410-955-7619 or tmparson@jhsph.edu.