USC contributes to national nutrition debate

June 21, 2011

University of South Carolina faculty, postdoctoral fellows and trainees were well represented in research presentations at the annual meeting of the American Society of Nutrition in Washington, D.C.

The conference drew a record 2,100 attendees. USC researchers, who included those from the Arnold School of Public Health, presented their studies at the meeting of the Community and Public Health Research Interest section, which has been growing steadily and now includes some 580 members, and also with the International Nutrition Council and the Nutrition Epidemiology Research Interest Section.

Dr. Edward Frongillo, chair of the Arnold School's Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, is past chair of the Community and Public Health Research Interest Section. Dr. Sonya Jones, an HPEB assistant professor and deputy director of the Center for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities, is the current chair.

"The research presented at the American Society of Nutrition underscores the valuable work being done by Arnold School faculty on some of the most challenging issues in nutrition today," Jones said. "This research encompasses a wide range of topics -- from food insecurity to lifestyle choices and children's and maternal health -- and also is done through collaborations with international colleagues.

"Clearly, the scholars affiliated with the Center for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities are recognized leaders in their respective fields of study and are making significant contributions."

Among the USC presentations:

"Mommy, what are you eating?" -- examining the links between the maternal and child diet in the context of the household food environment; E. C. Monterrosa, G. Pelto, K. M. Rasmussen; Cornell University and University of South Carolina.

  • This study involved learning how mothers go about feeding their children in Mexico.

Maternal pre-pregnancy BMI is not associated with breastfeeding duration, dietary diversity, or child feeding practices in low-income Mexican children 1 - 24 months old; E. C. Monterrosa, L. Neufeld, U. Ramakrishnan, K. Egan, E. A. Frongillo, K. M. Rasmussen; Cornell University, Micronutrient Initiative, Ottawa, National Institutes of Health, Cuernavaca, Mexico, Emory University and University of South Carolina.

  • This study found that low-income obese women in Mexico feed their infants and young children in much the same way as their slimmer peers.

Understanding the factors, strategies, and processes conducive to the establishment of an effective global health partnership; W. Gonzalez, E. A. Frongillo, J. A. Rivera; University of South Carolina and National Institutes of Health, Cuernavaca, Mexico.

  • This study examines the development of a regional policy for ameliorating nutrition and health conditions in eight Central American countries.

• Children's body mass index and school meal participation during the 4th-grade school year; A. Paxton, S. D. Baxter, J. A. Royer, C. H. Guinn, C. M. Delvin, University of South Carolina.

  • A study based in Richland County questioned whether participation in school breakfast and lunch programs was producing obese children. No association was found.

• Factors associated with non-persistent and persistent food insecurity in households with children in the United States; M. P. Burke, S. J. Jones, E. A. Frongillo, University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health.

  • Persistent food insecurity in U.S. children is predicted by low income, occasional or frequent use of Food Stamps, moving to a semi-urban area, gaining more than three siblings for a total of four or more siblings, and living in the Western U.S.

• Higher generational and acculturation status are associated with poorer diet and greater body weight among Mexican American adolescents; Y. H. Chu, J. Liu, E. A. Frongillo, J. C. Probst; University of South Carolina.

  • This study revealed that Mexican children develop poorer dietary habits and gain weight the longer they live in the U.S.

Measuring the dimensions of eating identity: internal consistency and test-retest reliability of a short 12-item tool; C. E. Blake, A. D. Liese, M. Nichols, S. J. Jones, D. Freedman, N. Colabianchi, University of South Carolina Arnold School of Health and College of Social Work.

  • Based on interviews with residents in the midlands region of South Carolina, this study looked the eating identities that people tend to assume. For example some persons tend to be meat eaters, others are picky, others are fast food junkies.

• Feasibility of using an experimental auction methodology to assess the impact of front-of-package rating systems on parental demand for children's beverages; A. Lenkerd, C. E. Blake, J. F. Thrasher, M. Rousu. Arnold School of Health, University of South Carolina and Susquehanna University, PA.

  • This study tested whether parents would be willing to pay more for children's beverages based on labels that rated the healthfulness of the product.

• Children experiencing food insecurity and hunger live adult roles; J. Bernal, H. A. Herrera, E. A. Frongillo, J. A. Rivera; Simón Bolíva University, Venzuela, University of South Carolina and National Institutes of Health Health, Cuernavaca, Mexico.

  • This study found that when there is not enough food in a household (food insecurity), children will assume adult roles in helping put food on the table.

• Using content analysis to assess quality of provincial nutrition plans in Vietnam; L. N. Hoang, N. Hajeebhoy, P. H. Nguyen, K. Lapping, E. A. Frongillo, P. Menon; University of South Carolina, Academy for Educational Development, Hanoi, International Food Policy Research Institute, Save the Children, Washington, D.C., and International Food Policy Research Institute, New Delhi

  • This study examined the quality of provincial nutrition plans across Vietnam.

Association of supermarket availability, accessibility and utilization with dietary intake; A. D. Liese, N. Colabianchi, J. Hibbert, M. Nichols, D. Freedman; University of South Carolina

  • This study examined whether having a grocery store in your area improves your diet.

• What's really in your neighborhood? Comparison of actual and perceived supermarket availability in primary household food shoppers in South Carolina; T. L. Barnes, D. A. Freedman, N. Colabianchi, B. A. Bell, M. D. Nichols, A. D. Liese; University of South Carolina College of Social Work, Arnold School of Public Health, and College of Education.

  • People's perceptions of good access to food do not always match what map says about where stores are.

• Transitioning out of the nutrition transition: using a socio-political lens for understanding dietary changes in the developing world; E. C. Monterrosa, C. M. Porter; University of South Carolina, Cornell University and University of Wyoming

  • The common framing of dietary shifts in low- and middle-income countries as the result of the "nutrition transition" ignores the historical, political, and social causes of dietary changes while discursively favoring policies aimed at individual behavior change.

• Antioxidant intakes are lower in older adults with depression; M. E. Payne, S. E. Steck, D. C. Steffens, Duke University and University of South Carolina.

  • This study observed that individuals with depression had lower intake of vitamins with known antioxidant properties (for example, vitamin C and the carotenoid called lutein, which is found in abundance in vegetables such as spinach) as compared to individuals without depression.

• A pilot study of diet and colorectal polyps by race; S. E. Steck, J. B. Burch, T. Hurley, P. Cavicchia, M. Alexander, N. Shivappa, J. R. Hebert, University of South Carolina.

  • African Americans are at elevated risk of both getting and, especially, dying of colorectal cancer. The goal of this study was to test the feasibility of enrolling African American and European American participants undergoing colonoscopy in Columbia, S.C., into a study of diet and epigenetic markers of risk of colorectal cancer and adenomatous polyps. Future work in this study will attempt to identify even earlier markers of colorectal cancer risk.

• Intake of dairy and calcium, NSAIDs and prostate cancer aggressiveness; S. E. Steck, L. J. Su, L. Arab, E. T. Fontham, J. Bensen, J. R. Hebert, H. Zhang, J. Mohler. University of South Carolina, NCI, NIH, Rockville, UCLA, LSU Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

  • In this large study of African-American and European-American men with prostate cancer, Dr. Steck and colleagues found that consuming a diet high in calcium was associated with increased risk of advanced prostate cancer, but that this increased risk was eliminated by the regular use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS, like aspirin and ibuprofen, taken at least once per week for one month over the previous five years before prostate cancer diagnosis). These results indicate that men should practice moderation in calcium intake, particularly for men who are not regularly taking NSAIDs.

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