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Dr. Anisha I. Patel is an Associate Professor in the Division of General Pediatrics at Stanford University. Dr. Patel earned a medical degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, completed a residency and chief residency in pediatrics at Stanford University, a fellowship in the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at UCLA and a post-doctoral fellowship in the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at UCSF. Dr. Patel practices general pediatrics at the Gardner Packard Children's Health Center.
This study examines whether increased access to fresh water and rigorous promotion of its consumption in elementary schools will reduce students' intake of caloric beverages, thereby leading to lower rates of obesity.
San Francisco Bay Area
This natural experiment will (1) examine the change in free drinking water access in food service areas in California public schools from before to after Senate Bill 1413/Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act implementation; (2) assess changes in the proportion of schools with excellent water access following implementation of the water in schools laws; and (3) investigate the addition of water language to school district wellness policies over the past five years and if the strength/comprehensiveness of water language in the district wellness policy correlates with excellence in water access at the school.
The aims of this study are to: 1) assess the quality of drinking water (by testing for the key contaminants lead, copper, arsenic, nitrate, hexavalent chromium) in food service areas (FSAs) in a representative sample of 240 California public schools; 2) examine school characteristics associated with water quality violations in FSA water sources in California public schools; and 3) understand if school administrators’ report of water quality testing is associated with water quality violations in FSAs.
Dr. Patel's research interests focus on reducing socioeconomic disparities in chronic diseases, including childhood obesity. Over the past 10 years, Dr. Patel has led numerous studies to encourage healthy beverage intake among children and adolescents. These studies include analyses of large national data sets, conduct of randomized controlled trials in schools, child care, and community settings to examine how interventions to increase children’s intake of water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages impact child health, and the evaluation of policy efforts to improve the healthfulness of beverages offered in schools and community settings. Dr. Patel has a diverse funding portfolio ranging from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Healthy Eating Research Program, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Patel has presented her research to local, national and international audiences. She has also been recognized for her research with awards from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill School of Public Health.
Communication and Marketing of School Meals
Currently, millions of children in preschools, schools, and in afterschool continue to
receive breakfast, lunch, snacks and supper through these programs. Thanks to federal
nutrition standards and reimbursements, school meals are generally healthier than meals from
home, particularly for students from low-income households. Participation in these programs,
beginning in the earliest years, reduces food insecurity and improves child health and
academic performance. Despite USDA administrative flexibilities issued during the COVID-19
pandemic, participation in school nutrition programs has decreased. This trial will examine
whether an intervention that focuses on communicating the benefits of child nutrition
programs and establishes a feasible and sustainable strategy for parents to provide ongoing
feedback to improve the appeal, cultural relevance, and quality of school meals will increase
school meal participation to reduce food insecurity and promote child health.
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Childcare Healthy Beverage Access, Food and Beverage Intake, and Obesity
Interventions that promote water consumption in place of sugar-sweetened beverages have shown
promise for preventing childhood obesity in schoolchildren. Yet to date, no studies have
examined whether applying this approach in childcare centers could help to prevent childhood
obesity at an even earlier stage of development. This cluster-randomized controlled trial
will fill gaps by examining how a multilevel childcare-based healthy beverage intervention
affects young children's consumption of beverages and obesity.
School Water Access, Food and Beverage Intake, and Obesity
It is widely argued that the promotion of water consumption, as an alternative to
sugar-sweetened beverages, can assist in childhood obesity prevention efforts. Yet no studies
have tested this argument in real world schools where flavored milk or juices are available.
This trial will fill gaps by examining how promoting fresh water intake-both in schools that
do and do not provide access to caloric beverages -impacts children's consumption of food and
beverages both during and outside of school, and obesity.