UC Berkeley Trainee Spotlight: Lilly Nhan

Lilly Nhan is a trainee at University of California, Berkeley. She is currently working on research examining the association between characteristics of community and school-level programs and policies and children’s dietary intake and weight status. In this blog post, she highlights her team’s research approach.Headshot_LNhan_2017 copy

With the rise in childhood obesity over the past several decades, numerous programs and interventions have been implemented with the goal of improving children’s diet and overall health. Efforts have spanned from the federal level, such as the USDA’s Healthier U.S. Schools Challenge, to community-based interventions, such as Shape Up Somerville. Furthermore, at the local level communities and school can also implement their own health and wellness related policies.

Thus, children across the US are living in communities with varying numbers and intensities of these programs and policies aimed at improving their health. Instead of focusing on a single intervention, this research seeks to understand across these varying types of interventions, what characteristics of programs and policies are associated with the most beneficial dietary and health outcomes in children. Examples of such characteristics include the amount or combinations of community programs and policies, their intensity, or duration.

This research will (a) characterize the breadth and scope of programs and policies aimed at tackling childhood obesity across multiple US communities, (b) identify the characteristics of these programs and policies that are associated with the best dietary and health outcomes, and (c) help inform best practices for the design and implementation of future childhood obesity interventions.

Working on this project has shown me the importance of research that acknowledges the dynamic interplay between an individual and their environment. People’s eating behaviors are shaped by their physical, social, and economic environments. Consequently, in order for interventions to be effective, they must recognize and meet the needs of their target population and their environment.

I have been inspired by this experience to continue working in childhood obesity research. Through this research, I hope to serve as an advocate for the equitable health and well-being of children across the U.S.

– Lilly Nhan, MCH Nutrition Trainee, University of California, Berkeley

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