Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Graduate student work in nutrition policy

Here are a couple interesting research projects.

Xiang Gao has been using linear programming tools to assess the implications of adhering to a number of dietary guidance recommendations, including for vitamin E and calcium. The Vitamin E paper (subscription or payment required), from a conference sponsored by the New York Academy of Sciences, uses data from the Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals (CSFII) to show that it is possible for most Americans to meet the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) recommendation from food alone -- without supplements -- but it requires a diet much different from what most Americans eat. In particular, because vitamin E is often found in nuts, meeting the requirement without going overboard on calories requires heavier consumption of nuts. But that, in turn, tends to bump the diet up against a fat constraint. It's a conundrum.

Jennifer Coates gave a paper last month at the Experimental Biology meetings, with the title, "Why do women and men in the same households respond differently to household-level food security questions?" The study stems from Coates' work in Bangladesh, but similar questions arise in U.S. food security measurement. The abstract is online (.pdf) and earned a student research award. Coates estimates the frequency of disagreement in male and female responses to household-level food security questions -- i.e. questions about the household in which the man and woman both live, as opposed to their individual separate experiences. Among the results:
The rate of concordance in responses was 81 % and was higher for food insecure than food secure households (10 % vs. 23 % disagreement). Response disparities related to: separate spheres of household responsibility, power imbalances influencing intra-household food allocation, and gendered attitudes toward food-related vulnerability.
I'm a minor faculty member and co-author on both efforts.

3 comments:

alissa said...

heres a seemingly weird question... but i found this blog while on a quest to figure out a graduate program for food policy. since you seem to follow student research, could you tell me a little about how one could find a graduate program connected with this type of stuff? im not sure if you would know, but are there grad programs actually called "food policy" programs in america? i have found that tufts and boston university have them... do you know of others? do people usually get into different types of programs... like psychology or nutrition programs and then choose to specialize on the policy portion? thanks for any guidance.

Parke Wilde said...

The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University has a fine program in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition (where I teach), and also a program in Agriculture, Food, and the Environment. In addition to the disciplines you mentioned, political science and economics programs often cover food policy (the topic is covered, though the actual term "food policy" goes in an out of vogue and may be out with political scientists at present). Other good schools include nutrition and agricultural economics programs at Cornell, UC Davis, Iowa State, University of North Carolina, and others.

dianna.rose83@gmail.com said...

Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.