SNEB Editorial: Public Health Nutrition: Translating Research into Practice

Posted by: Casey Coombs on Friday, February 8, 2019

SNEB Editorial: Public Health Nutrition: Translating Research into Practice

Originally published in the February issue of JNEB.

Public health nutrition is a unique, multifaceted discipline that includes a wide range of experts in the research, policy, and programming sectors.1 A goal of the SNEB Public Health Nutrition Division is to help translate public health nutrition research into practice and policies. This translation process is essential to ensure practitioners have the tools to implement effective, evidence-based interventions that have demonstrated improvements in nutrition-related behaviors and health outcomes of the target audiences.2,3 Furthermore, collaboration between researchers and practitioners is necessary to ensure that researchers are testing interventions that can feasibly be implemented in public health settings.3

The need for translating research into practice is certainly not new to the field of public  health nutrition.3 However, as nutrition education programs continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of the population, the dissemination of information between practitioners, policy-makers, and researchers will remain important.3 Many nutrition pro- grams, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed), have expanded their programming to include strategies that influence food and physical activity environments.4 Such program expansion can be made more effective and cost-efficient through the sharing of evidence-based interventions that target individual behaviors, environmental factors, and related policies.2,3,4 Additionally, utilizing evidence-based programming and evaluation instruments can be helpful for practitioners when obtaining initial funding and providing evidence of programmatic impact to secure continued funding.2 Furthermore, close collaboration between researchers and practitioners is necessary to generate evidence to help establish or advance local, state, and national level nutrition-related policies.3

Several resources are available to assist researchers and practitioners throughout the translation process. The Centers for Disease Control  and Prevention’s Knowledge to Action (K2A) Framework is a tool to support collaborative efforts bet- ween researchers and practi- tioners.2 Through the K2A Framework, specific guidance is provided on researching, imple- menting, and evaluating interven- tions that are feasible and replicable for practitioners.2 Addi- tionally, the National Cancer Insti- tute and National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research have extensive collections of individual and environmental level diet and physical activity measures that researchers and practitioners can adopt.5,6 Last, the SNAP-Ed Toolkit is an example of how interventions can be made available for professio- nals to use in practice. This toolkit includes interventions, curricula, and evaluation instruments that are either research- or practice- tested and determined to be appro- priate for SNAP-Ed implementing agencies.7 Continued contribution to these and similar resources by both researchers and practitioners will help facilitate the essential task of translating research into useful public health interventions.

Casey Coombs, MS, RDN
Department of Nutrition, Dietetics,
and Food Sciences, Food $ense
(SNAP-Ed), Utah State University
Extension, Logan, UT

Mateja R. Savoie-Roskos, PhD, MPH, RDN
Department of Nutrition, Dietetics,
and Food Sciences, Utah State
University, Logan, UT

Nurgul Fitzgerald, PhD, MS, RDN
Department of Nutritional Sciences,
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey,
New Brunswick, NJ

Tovah Wolf, MS, RDN
Department of Food Science and
Human Nutrition, Iowa State University,
Ames, IA

REFERENCES

  1. Glanz K, Rimer BK, Viswanath K. Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research and Practice. San Fran- cisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons;
  2. Wilson KM, Brady TJ, Lesene C. on behalf of the NCCDPHP Work Group on Translation. An organizing frame- work for translation in public health: the Knowledge to Action Framework. Prev Chron Dis. 2011;8:2.
  3. Brownson RC, Fielding JE, Maylahn Evidence-based public health: a fundamen- tal concept for public health practice. Annu Rev Public Health. 2009;30:175-201.
  4. US Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP-Ed Plan Guid- ance FY 2018, Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Grant 2018. https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/snap/Guid- ance/FY2018SNAP-EdPlanGuidance. pdf. Accessed October 29, 2018.
  5. National Cancer Institute. Research Resources for Cancer Epidemiology and 2018. https://epi.grants.can- cer.gov/research-resources/. Accessed October 29, 2018.
  6. National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Tools. 2018. https:// www.nccor.org/nccor-tools/. Accessed October 29, 2018.
  7. US Department of SNAP-Ed Toolkit − Strategies & Interventions. 2018. https://snapedtoolkit.org/. Accessed October 31, 2018.