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UC to host workshop on effects of farm policy on obesity

Conference includes the latest research findings on the influences of specific farm and food policies, facts about nutrition and obesity, and the possible mechanisms through which agricultural and food policies could be influencing health and body weight.

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Registration by April 15 is $95, after April 15 it costs $145. To register or for more information go to the UC Davis website.

DAVIS - Farm and food policy and obesity will be the subject of a two-day workshop held at the UC Davis Conference Center in Davis on May 21 and 22. Speakers will address a range of government policies that influence obesity through their effects on prices of food and beverages or commodities used to produce them.

There is no evidence to support the claim that farm subsidies -- by making fattening foods relatively cheap and abundant -- contribute to obesity in the United States, according to an analysis by UC Davis and Iowa State University researchers.

"U.S. farm subsidies have many critics," said Julian Alston, a professor of agricultural economics at UC Davis. "A variety of arguments and evidence can be presented to show that the programs are ineffective, wasteful or unfair. Eliminating farm subsidies could solve some of these problems -- but would not even make a dent in America's obesity problem."

The workshop will highlight findings from the four-year project exploring the effects of agricultural and food policies on obesity, which was conducted at UC Davis and Iowa State University with support from a National Research Initiative Grant from the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture.

Alston and scientists from other universities, government agencies and the private sector will present their latest research findings on the influences of specific farm and food policies, facts about nutrition and obesity, and the possible mechanisms through which agricultural and food policies could be influencing health and body weight.

The public is invited to attend the workshop from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 21, and for the more technical session from 7:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 22.

Scheduled speakers for May 21 are as follows:

Judy Stern, UC Davis professor in the departments of Nutrition and Internal Medicine/Division of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism

Jay Bhattacharya, associate professor in the Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research at the Stanford University School of Medicine

Barry M. Popkin, the Carla Smith Chamblee Distinguished Professor of Global Nutrition and professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and director of UNC-CH's Interdisciplinary Center for Obesity

Laurian J. Unnevehr, director of the Food Economics Division of the USDA’s Economic Research Service

Julian M. Alston, UC Davis professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and director of the Center for Wine Economics at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science

John Beghin, Iowa State University professor of international agricultural economics

Patricia Crawford, UC Berkeley Cooperative Extension nutrition specialist, director of the Dr. Robert C and Veronica Atkins Center for Weight and Health, and adjunct professor in the School of Public Health and Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology

Lucia Kaiser, UC Davis associate nutrition specialist

Parke Wilde, Tufts University associate professor in the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

Helen H. Jensen, Iowa State University professor of economics and head of the Food and Nutrition Policy Division

Gail G. Harrison, UCLA professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences and director of the UCLA Center for Global and Immigrant Health.

Conclusions of the UC Davis-Iowa State study appeared in the December 2007 issue of " Agricultural and Resource Economics Update," published by the University of California's Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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