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Shu Wen Ng has received new grant funding to build on her economic and nutrition research about food purchases, dietary behavior, obesity, and health disparities.

The research study – Positive, Negative, and Unintended Consequences of Nutrition-related Policies on Food Purchases: Pushing Nutrition Policy Forward – is funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. This three-year study of up to $1.7 million will strengthen the evidence-base to evaluate U.S. nutrition-related policies at the local, state, and federal levels, including SNAP and WIC.

The research project is led by Ng and co-PI Barry M. Popkin. Ng is an Associate Professor of Nutrition at UNC. Popkin is UNC’s W. R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Nutrition. Both are Carolina Population Center Faculty Fellows. The project is part of UNC’s Global Food Research Program, and will be administered by the Carolina Population Center.

To more effectively and equitably improve diet and health, it is important to understand the dynamics of our food system. To do so, Ng will focus on three components:

  1. On the supply-side: How is the food supply changing due to industry response to nutrition-related policies and public pressure?
  2. On the demand-side: What is the impact of nutrition-related policies and/or programs on consumer purchases? What is the impact of industry-driven supply changes on consumer purchases?
  3. Simulate politically, legally and administratively feasible nutrition-related fiscal policies to determine and compare how they might change food and nutritional purchases of key populations and generate revenue for governments.

From this work, the team plans to develop online tools for other researchers, policymakers and stakeholders to use as ways to monitor the changing food supply, consumer demand across subpopulations and explore policy options.