New York University Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

NYU Researchers Awarded NIH Grant For Study of School Food Policy and Obesity

March 24, 2011

     The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $1.3 million to support a study by a team of New York University researchers on how school food policy shapes health, fitness, and academic outcomes among school children.

    The project’s principal investigator is Amy Ellen Schwartz, a professor of public policy and economics at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Schwartz  is Director of the NYU Institute of Education and Social Policy, a partnership between Wagner and Steinhardt. In addition to Schwartz, the study, “The Impact of School Food Policy on Childhood Obesity,” includes six other investigators, including NYU professors Brian Elbel, Meryle Weinstein, Sean P. Corcoran, Beth Dixon, Leanna Stiefel, Rogan Kersh.

      Obesity among children is one of the most pressing public health problems in the United States. Currently, there are few policy tools to reduce obesity effectively at the population level. However, schools are a prime place to influence this epidemic. The School Food program, including both the school lunch and breakfast programs, serves more than 30 million children every day, making it arguably one of the most important levers available to policymakers for improving the diet of America’s youth.

      The research project which Schwartz will lead seeks to determine the influence of school‐level food policies, one of the most promising approaches to influence obesity, on Body Mass Index (BMI) and a number of other critical outcomes measures.

       The New York City public schools offer a unique laboratory for studying the effects of school food policies on program participation, obesity, and academic achievement. With its 1.1 million students and more than 1,600 schools, this school system exhibits wide variation in food policies and programs across schools, considerable diversity in neighborhood settings and contexts, and a remarkably diverse student body. Specifically, this project will investigate the role school and district food policies have on (a) BMI, (b) meal program participation, and (c) academic outcomes. Data on district policies, school practices, and neighborhood context will be collected via a city‐wide survey of schools, interviews with district personnel, and several school case studies. The project will provide considerable data on the impact of a wide range of school food policies on childhood obesity, through direct observation of BMI. As other school districts and state and federal policymakers struggle with policy approaches to influence childhood obesity, these results will indicate which policies are successful and worth pursuing.

This Press Release is in the following Topics:
Research, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Type: Press Release

Press Contact: Robert Polner | (212) 998-2337

NYU Researchers Awarded NIH Grant For Study of School Food Policy and Obesity

Search News



NYU In the News

NYU Offers Financial Aid to Undocumented Students

The Wall Street Journal reported that NYU will begin offering scholarship aid to undocumented students for the school year beginning next September.

NYU Adopts Lean LaunchPad Program to Teach Entrepreneurship

Startup guru Steve Blank, in a Huffington Post blog, described how NYU adopted the Lean LaunchPad model to teach entrepreneurship to students and faculty at NYU.

Biology Professor Jane Carlton Examines Wastewater for the City’s Microbiome

The New York Times’ Science Times column “Well” profiled Biology Professor Jane Carlton and her research project to sequence microbiome of New York City by examining wastewater samples.

Steinhardt Professors Use a Play as Therapy

The New York Times wrote about a play written by Steinhardt Music Professor Robert Landy about the relationship between Adjunct Professor Cecilia Dintino, a clinical psychologist in the Drama Therapy Program, and a patient, former Broadway actress Jill Powell.

NYU Public Health Experts Urge Strengthening Local Health Systems to Combat Ebola

Dean Cheryl Healton of the Global Institute of Public Health and Public Health Professor Christopher Dickey wrote an op-ed in the Huffington Post saying international health agencies need to strengthen their presence in countries at the local level to prevent future ebola outbreaks.

NYU Footer