Optimal nutrition is critical for children’s short- and long-term health including maintaining a healthy weight and prevention of chronic diseases, as well as physical development, cognitive development, early learning, and academic success. Many communities across America are changing public policy, community environments, and industry practices to better support healthy eating, physical activity, and healthier choices for kids and families so that all children have a healthy start in life and are able to grow up at a healthy weight. Research in this area focuses on monitoring and improving eating patterns and overweight and obesity trends, and understanding how policies, systems, and environments impact food and beverage choices and weight status.

Research & Publications See all

February 2023

Rapid Health Impact Assessment on Changes to School Nutrition Standards to Align with 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The national school breakfast and lunch programs administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are cornerstone federal nutrition assistance programs. School meals are one of the healthiest sources of foods for school-age children, which is significant as some children receive up to half of their daily calories at school. Policy opportunities in 2023 More

January 2023

Policy, system, and environmental interventions addressing obesity and diet-related outcomes in early childhood education settings: A systematic review

Early childhood education (ECE) settings play an important role in child dietary intake and excess weight gain. Policy, systems, and environment (PSE) approaches have potential to reduce disparities in children at higher risk for obesity. The purpose of this review was to (1) characterize the inclusion of populations at higher risk for obesity in ECE More

November 2022

Promising Strategies to Increase Student Participation in School Meals

School meal programs play a critical role in feeding children. Meals served in school are generally of better nutritional quality than those that students bring from home and have been linked to improved academic performance and household food security. The aim of this research brief is to highlight and summarize rigorous evidence from a new More

September 2022

Implementing SNAP During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Perspectives from the National Network of State SNAP Administrators

SNAP was a critical component of the COVID-19 pandemic response. The beginning of the pandemic saw the largest increase in applications in the program’s history, and the pandemic fundamentally altered how SNAP agencies deliver benefits, interact with participants, and provide supportive services. The goal of this research was to examine SNAP implementation during the first More