In January 2012, the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) hosted a two-day workshop in Washington, DC, on surveillance of the food system as a first step in improving the understanding of the U.S. food system and its influences on children’s weight status.

The meeting included representatives from NCCOR funding partners: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as well as researchers, advocates, research funders, and policy makers concerned with how the U.S. food system is monitored.

Through presentations and discussions, the meeting was designed to:

  • Enumerate existing resources that characterize the U.S. food system
  • Identify gaps in current efforts
  • Propose mechanisms to fill those gaps
  • Identify data needed to inform policy makers
  • Further the goal of improving diet quality and reducing childhood obesity

Workshop presentations focused on the data sources currently used to describe and monitor the U.S. food supply, efforts to monitor food security and food assistance programs and track food purchases, and surveillance systems that track and measure consumers’ food consumption behaviors and eating patterns.

Following the presentations, participants offered their ideas for future workshops, discussion sessions, and other activities. Suggestions included exploring and filling in data gaps, investigating the relationship between current data monitoring systems to learn how they can be most effectively used to answer research questions, and exploring the role NCCOR can play in helping to advance future progress in food system surveillance.

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