Public Health Experts Celebrate 30 Years of CDC’s Prevention Research Solutions for Communities with Health Disparities


UNC HPDP February 16, 2017 – It has been 30 years since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) envisioned the creation of a bridge between academic public health research and public health practice. The result is the Prevention Research Centers (PRC) Program, currently a network of 26 academic institutions across the U.S. dedicated to moving new discoveries into the communities that need them. Marking this milestone, key members of the PRC Network community share their insights and commentaries to provide an insiders’ perspective on the past, present, and future of the PRC Program in a special supplement to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

“The 30th anniversary of the founding of the PRC Network is an appropriate time to reflect on our progress as well as look to the future. Applied prevention research with a focus on understanding health disparities and promoting health equity has never been more important than now. The PRC Network has made great strides in developing, testing, and disseminating programs and policies that have had broad and sustained impact,” commented supplement Guest Editor Dr. Mehran S. Massoudi, former PRC Director and currently the Regional Health Administrator, Region VI, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

PRC Program leaders provide a historical look, current assessment, and perspective for the future of the program. The contributions represent continuing efforts to promote health by conducting cutting-edge research and translating research to practice in partnership with communities.

Dr. James S. Marks, former CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) Director, and Dr. Jeffrey P. Koplan, former NCCDPHP and CDC Director, review the early years of the PRCs and offer perspectives into the future. They examine the early struggles that led to missed opportunities and how the original goal of PRCs, namely, practical research in challenged communities as a core part of the academic enterprise of scholarship, service, and training, has been accomplished. They observed that “the bridge the PRCs have helped to build between public health academia and practice is broad, heavily traveled, and has brought longer, healthier, more fulfilling lives to all.”

Four former PRC directors look back on some unique challenges faced by the PRC Program and how they ultimately successfully addressed them. Eduardo J. Simoes, MD, MSc, MPH, Director from 2002 until 2011, noted, “Along the way and every day, this partnership of government, academia, and community traveled a bumpy road with improved pavement provided by dedicated federal public health officials motivated by knowledge and a strong sense of duty.”

Leaders from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and National Association of County and City Health Officials provide a frame from the practice-based perspective on how the PRC Program serves as a resource to state and local public health departments as they fulfill their public health mission.

Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health and American College of Preventive Medicine representatives provide a perspective of the PRC Program as an integral portfolio of the Schools of Public Health and Medicine to advance population health. The PRCs are pushing academic research to pay more attention to on-the-ground prevention efforts, state and local health departments that benefit from closer ties to the research institutions, and the public, which gains an evidence-based platform for health promotion and disease prevention.

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Caption: 30 years of building healthier communities. An overview of the Prevention Research Centers Program and its contributions to public health and education. Credit: Prevention Research Centers Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The supplement documents the story of how PRC Programs have impacted the health of African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans, deaf populations, adolescents, older adults, and urban and rural under-resourced populations. Other articles deal with measuring the impact of a national media intervention implemented across the PRC Network, evaluating healthy food incentive programs, assessing fall risk prevention programs, and promoting teen contraception through parental intervention.

Twenty-one peer-reviewed original research articles from the PRC academic and community partners show the depth and scope of their work. These articles cover a wide range of important topics including dissemination and implementation of long-standing evidence-based programs, including formation of thematic research networks in physical activity, healthy aging, cancer prevention and control, and epilepsy management; health surveillance of the deaf community; research to practice in state and local public health settings; collaboration with community partners; use of community health workers or “promotoras;” and training of the public health workforce.

Reaching out to the public health community, Dr. Massoudi noted, “In looking to the future, we must build on the work of the past 30 years, incorporating new knowledge and technology while remaining committed to our mission of working as an interdependent network of community, academic, and public health partners to conduct prevention research and promote the wide use of practices proven to promote good health.”








Media contact:

Sonya Sutton

1700 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd #7426, Chapel Hill, NC 27514


Guest Editors:

Alice S. Ammerman, DrPH, Prevention Research Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

Ross C. Brownson, PhD, Prevention Research Center in St. Louis, Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO

Jeffrey R. Harris, MD, MPH, MBA, Prevention Research Center, University of Washington School of Public Health, Seattle, WA

Mehran S. Massoudi, PhD, MPH, Regional Health Administrator, Region VI, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, DHHS, Dallas, TX; formerly the Director of the Prevention Research Centers Program, CDC, Atlanta GA


This supplement to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, volume 52, issue 3 (March 2017), published by Elsevier, is openly available at Please visit the site to view the table of contents and access full text of the contributions.


Full text of these articles is also available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact Jillian B. Morgan at +1 734-936-1590 or Journalists wishing to interview the authors should contact Dr. Mehran S. Massoudi, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, US Department of Health and Human Services, at +1 214-767-8433, +1 202-853-4235 (mobile) or


This publication was made possible through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research (APTR) Cooperative Agreement No. 1 U36 OE000005. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, or the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, or APTR.


About the American Journal of Preventive Medicine

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine ( is the official journal of The American College of Preventive Medicine ( and the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research ( It publishes articles in the areas of prevention research, teaching, practice and policy. Original research is published on interventions aimed at the prevention of chronic and acute disease and the promotion of individual and community health. The journal features papers that address the primary and secondary prevention of important clinical, behavioral and public health issues such as injury and violence, infectious disease, women’s health, smoking, sedentary behaviors and physical activity, nutrition, diabetes, obesity, and alcohol and drug abuse. Papers also address educational initiatives aimed at improving the ability of health professionals to provide effective clinical prevention and public health services. The journal also publishes official policy statements from the two co-sponsoring organizations, health services research pertinent to prevention and public health, review articles, media reviews, and editorials.


The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, with an Impact Factor of 4.465, is ranked 14th in Public, Environmental, and Occupational Health titles and 16th in General & Internal Medicine titles for total number of citations according to the 2015 Journal Citation Reports® published by Thomson Reuters, 2016.


About Elsevier

Elsevier ( is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions – among them ScienceDirect (, Scopus (, Elsevier Research Intelligence (, and ClinicalKey ( – and publishes over 2,500 journals, including The Lancet ( and Cell (, and more than 35,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works. Elsevier is part of RELX Group (, a world-leading provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries.


About Prevention Research Centers (PRC)

PRC is a network of 26 academic research centers in 24 states that study how people and their communities can avoid or counter the risks for chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, obesity and cancer. These centers are located at either a school of public health or a medical school that has a preventive medicine residency program. As leaders in translating research results into policy and public health practice, the centers work with communities to develop, evaluate, and implement major community changes that can prevent and control chronic diseases. They identify gaps in research and develop innovative approaches to improving public health that can be shared broadly with public health partners.


Help from a family member can help adults with type 2 diabetes lose weight and manage their health

Carmen Samuel-Hodge

Carmen D. Samuel-Hodge, RD, PhD

CHAPEL HILL, NC – Working with a family member can help adults with type 2 diabetes lose weight and improve their health, according to a UNC study published in the January 2017 issue of Obesity.

Family-centered weight loss interventions have been shown to be effective in both managing diabetes and preventing the onset of diabetes in family members. Investigators with the Family PArtners in Life Style Support (PALS) study, based at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP), recognized a particular need for interventions adapted to the social, family, and community contexts of African Americans with diabetes. Family PALS aimed to address this need by developing and testing a family-centered behavioral weight loss intervention for African American adults with type 2 diabetes. The research team was led by Carmen D. Samuel-Hodge, RD, PhD, also a research assistant professor of nutrition at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, and also included Ziya Gizlice, Gwendolyn Davis, and Thomas C. Keyserling of HPDP. This research was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Adults with type 2 diabetes were paired with a family member who was overweight or obese but not diagnosed with diabetes. The pairs were encouraged to attend weekly group-based sessions together that focused on problem solving and goal setting with regards to weight management. For both diabetes patients and their family partners, weight loss was greater in those who attended more sessions.

“We’ve seen in many behavioral weight loss trials that African American women don’t lose as much weight as other participants. In Family PALS, losing weight with the support of a family member made a difference. Pairs who attended more than 10 sessions together lost about 5.5 pounds more than pairs attending fewer sessions together,” said Samuel-Hodge.

Participants benefited not only from significant weight loss, but also showed greater improvements in other health measures, including hemoglobin A1c, depressive symptoms, family interactions, quality of life, and perceptions of diabetes control.

“These very positive results strongly support the effectiveness of a family-centered approach in African Americans families living with diabetes. We are now much more aware that ‘one size does not fit all’ when it comes to interventions,” said Samuel-Hodge. “What may work better for African American families is pairing family members in lifestyle interventions that target both diabetes prevention and diabetes treatment through modest weight loss.”

To the investigators’ knowledge, Family PALS is the first family-centered weight loss intervention study conducted among African American adults with diabetes. This study establishes the potential that family-centered interventions have to significantly improve weight loss outcomes among African Americans with diabetes.

The UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention is a Prevention Research Center funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Media Contact: Sonya Sutton,; 919-966-4118

New Mediterranean-style diet pattern leads to weight loss and improved blood pressure

A UNC research study recently published in BMC Public Health shows that incorporating a Mediterranean-style diet is likely to facilitate weight loss and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.

The Heart Healthy Lenoir study was conducted in Lenoir County in eastern North Carolina and

focused on developing healthy dietary, physical activity and weight loss strategies to improve cardiovascular health. Dr. Thomas Keyserling, MD, MPH, in the UNC School of Medicine and research fellow at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention led the lifestyle and diet portion of the study.

Keyserling and his team encouraged project participants to focus on eating foods with healthy fats regularly instead of focusing on a low fat diet. They asked participants to eat more nuts, vegetable oils and fish as part of a Mediterranean-style diet. In addition, the diet also promoted regularly consumption of fruits and vegetables, whole grain products and beans.

Among study participants who returned for their 6-month follow-up visit, compared to baseline there was a reduction in systolic blood – of 6.4 mmHg and a reduction in diastolic blood pressure was -3.7 mmHg. In addition, though weight loss was not an objective during the first 6 months of this project, average weight loss was 0.7 kg on the fat unrestricted diet.

The Heart Healthy Lenoir diet was well received in the community because it didn’t require participants to give up many of the foods they already enjoyed. For example, the study promoted full fat salad dressing and mayonnaise, as there products are made of heathy vegetable oils as opposed to the low or no fat versions which have higher salt content and high fructose corn syrup, a poor quality carbohydrate. In addition, fried foods were considered acceptable as long as non-trans fat vegetable oil was used for frying.

“A major goal of the research study was to develop an intervention that would be similarly effective among minority and non-minority participants in order to decrease health disparities. As a whole, both lifestyle and physiologic outcomes were similar by race. However, there was a trend showing greater reduction for systolic blood pressure among African American participants.”

“As African Americans typically have higher blood pressure, it was promising to see a greater reduction in blood pressure within this subgroup of study participants.”

The study concludes that a large majority of the participants reported substantial improvement in dietary intake and a meaningful percentage lost weight and maintained weight loss. Equally important were the findings that as lifestyle and physiologic changes were similar for African American and white participants, the culturally tailored intervention has the potential to reduce both CVD risk as well as disparities in CVD rates.

Other members of the research team included Carmen D. Samuel-Hodge, Stephanie Jilcott Pitts, Beverly A. Garcia, Larry F. Johnston, Ziya Gizlice, Cassandra L. Miller, Danielle F. Braxton, Kelly R. Evenson, Janice C. Smith, Gwen B. Davis, Emmanuelle L. Quenum, Nadya T. Majette Elliott, Myron D. Gross, Katrina E. Donahue, Jacqueline R. Halladay and Alice S. Ammerman.

HPDP employee establishes community garden project

A recently established garden project at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) and other surrounding areas acts as a haven for staff and community members to relax and meditate while exemplifying HPDP’s theme of developing healthy eating habits and sustainability.


After construction of a new ABC store near the Center’s offices was complete, a group of employees noticed there was a lot of open ground that wasn’t being utilized by the store. Ziya Gizlice, the director of HPDP’s Biostatistical Services Unit, reached out to see if they could use these open grounds for their garden project. The ABC store gave consent, but UNC grounds services advised against it saying that land is not sanctioned UNC land and it could be dangerous considering it is underneath power lines. UNC grounds services also listed several legal issues regarding injury liability on land that isn’t sanctioned by UNC, however, they permitted the use of UNC land to establish a container garden.

Despite the setbacks, Gizlice decided to continue to pursue his original plan for the garden to be a community garden as well as a HPDP garden. He contacted local shops, apartments, and even some places in Raleigh, in order to garner support for the garden. He also spoke to employees from other UNC departments with space at the building at 1700 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard so that people on different floors would meet and interact with each other.

Gizlice also touched on the growing division around the world due to hate speech and international conflict. He explained that, “It will be nice to have a place where people can relax and meditate that is inclusive and unifying.”

Gizlice initially had plans of a large garden, but decided to gauge interest by establishing a smaller trial garden first. He stated that, “If you are leading something, you have to feel the pressure behind you.”

A small team of HPDP employees have brought the garden to life. HPDP employees can sign up to contribute to the garden by donating supplies, providing funds for miscellaneous small expenditures, and tending to the garden in their free time. After the produce is harvested, it goes to those who are signed up with the program. If there is leftover produce, it is distributed to other HPDP employees. The garden currently yields tomatoes, watermelon, squash, peppers, and other common fruits and vegetables that would be found in the typical backyard garden.

Gizlice’s background as an agricultural plant geneticist along with his burning passion for gardening and growing food at home motivated him to start the garden project. He claimed that, “the best local food is grown in the backyard with local resources and passion.” He also believes that gardening is a very applicable learning experience. “Appreciation comes from doing” is the mantra that he assigned to gardening as a learning experience for people who are dependent on food from others. According to Gizlice, food independence is important for health and sustainability. He defines sustainability as “stuff you can do over and over again.”

This project ties in with HPDP research areas in  Local Foods and Sustainable Agriculture. HPDP is able to promote healthy eating habits and community engagement through the implementation of community-led gardens. Another major goal of these programs is to reach out to underserved areas where fresh, healthy and cost-effective produce isn’t readily available.

In addition, these HPDP programs tie in with the 2015-2017 university-wide academic theme: Food for All. This theme encompasses many topics regarding food such as sustainable development, community health and nutrition among many others. The Food for All initiative is also comprised by many projects on campus and in the community that focus on educating people about local foods and agriculture in order to promote healthier lifestyles to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds. HPDP’s director, Dr. Alice Ammerman, co-chairs on the steering committee of the Food for All initiative. HPDP works alongside the university in the name of facilitating access to healthy produce for people in the community.

Go NAP SACC program revamps their website

The Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care program, currently known as Go NAP SACC, recently revamped their website. Besides the updated look, the new renovations to the website also make it more compatible with mobile devices. Success stories accompanied by videos of actual program participants on the front page of the website highlight the triumphs of NAP SACC.

NAP SACC was created in 2002 as a joint effort between childhood obesity researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill and employees of the Nutrition Services branch at the North Carolina Division of Public Health. In 2005, the team received funding for a Special Interest Project through the CDC Prevention Research Center fund. Read more about the CDC grant here.

The program is rooted in perspectives of early care and education providers, families, and experts in child health and education. The NAP SACC team consolidated these perspectives into a set of best practices with current research and national standards in mind. The goal of these practices is to help early care providers make improvements in their nutrition and physical activity with the idea that healthier child-care providers leads to healthier children.

De Marco receives Provost Engaged Scholarship Award for research

Tony Locklear, Molly De Marco, Daniella Uslan, and Alexandra Lightfoot celebrate De Marco's award for engaged research

Tony Locklear, Daniella Uslan, Molly De Marco and Alexandra Lightfoot celebrate De Marco’s award for engaged research

Molly De Marco, PhD, Research Fellow and project director in the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) and research assistant professor of nutrition at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has received the 2016 Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award for engaged research.

The award is one of several public service awards presented on March 30th by the Carolina Center for Public Service in a ceremony at the Carolina Club.

De Marco directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded “SNAP-Ed UNC: Healthy Food for All in North Carolina” project, which provides nutrition education to people eligible for SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps) in  Duplin, Orange, Lenoir, Sampson, Rockingham and Warren counties. She leads interventions that include the implementation of 18 community gardens and collaborates with three farmers markets to remove barriers to customers’ using SNAP benefits. She also works with the farmers market to increase the number of sites serving summer meals to children and families.

“Molly’s work is the ultimate example of engaged research,” said Alice Ammerman, DrPH, professor of nutrition and HPDP director. “She has a multitude of community partners who seek her collaboration, and she never fails to include input from these partners in her efforts. She is a master at balancing rigorous research principles with meaningful community engagement.”

De Marco, who came to UNC eight years ago for a post-doctoral appointment in community-based participatory research, said she was humbled by the award. “I stand on the shoulders of so many amazing mentors, including Alice Ammerman, Alexandra Lightfoot, Eugenia Eng, Rev. William Kearney, Melvin Jackson, Naeema Muhammad, David Caldwell and Tony Locklear.”

Locklear, a HPDP community partner and current Access to Recovery Services Coordinator and Lumbee Tribal Liaison for the American Indian Center and North Carolina Tribal Nations, received the Partnership Award in the ceremony.

Chancellor Carol L. Folt, who presented the awards, said she was proud to recognize the awardees’ innovativeness, scholarship and dedication.

“The University’s three-part mission to research, educate and serve our local communities, state, nation and world is truly enhanced by our unwavering commitment to public service,” Folt said. “The recipients of this year’s Public Service Awards prove that public service and engaged scholarship enhance the research conducted, lessons taught and knowledge used to serve the public good at this University.”

Other winners include Rhonda Lanning, clinical assistant professor in the School of Nursing, and the American Indian Center and N.C. Tribal Nations (Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Awards); Beverly Foster, clinical associate professor and director of undergraduate education in the School of Nursing (Ned Brooks Award for Public Service); undergraduate student Gayatri Rathod, graduate students Catherine Schricker and Korry Tauber, staff member Christopher Wallace, clinical assistant professor of social work Josh Hinson, MSW, and campus organization Student Health Action Coalition (Robert E. Bryan Public Service Awards).

Read more about the awardees on the Carolina Center for Public Service website.

Women’s Health Month Highlight: CARE (Caring and Reaching for Health)

This story is the second in our series celebrating research by and for women in celebration of Women’s History Month. To see the first, go to:Click Here 

By Merve Sherifi, 2016 Communications Intern

CARECaring and Reaching for Health (CARE), led by Principal Investigators Dr. Dianne Ward and Dr. Laura Linnan, is a randomized, controlled research study with the goal of improving the health related behaviors of those working in child care, the majority of whom are women.

CARE is evaluating two new worksite wellness programs designed specifically for child care centers and their employees. It is focused on improving physical, mental, emotional, and/or financial health of child care providers. Child care centers are growing and the individuals who work at these centers have a demanding job, and are often paid a very low wage. Child care center directors and staff sign up to participate as a team and are randomized into one of two programs, Healthy Lifestyles or Healthy Finances.

“Child care centers often do not offer health benefits or health promotion programs at the workplace. CARE gives us an opportunity to reach those who don’t have the same opportunities that are often offered to employees at larger worksites,” said Lori Bateman, Project Director.”

The primary goal of this study is to evaluate the effects of the Healthy Lifestyles program compared to the Healthy Finances program on a variety of health outcome
s among participating child care providers. The project will evaluate the impact of these programs on physical activity, eating habits, weight, smoking habits, emotional health, sleep quality, as well as changes that might occur in the work environment.

Several child care centers recently completed the 6-month intervention in Cumberland County, and recruiting for the next phase began in January 2016 in Rowan, Forsyth, and Davidson counties. The team is currently enrolling and collecting baseline measures on the new cohort and in the coming months they will be randomized into one of the programs.

CARE received positive feedback from child care centers that participated in the pilot program. Katherine Davis, Director at The Growing Place Child Care Center said, “Programs like CARE are needed to increase teachers’ health awareness while supporting and motivating them to improve their health!”

Another participating Director, Kim Draughn of Lulu’s Child Enrichment Center, spoke about her experience with the pilot program, saying “I feel that CARE is vitally important because it focuses on one of the key components of a high quality center, the teaching staff. Often child care providers are thought of as babysitters and their daily efforts to improve the lives of young children go unrecognized. Programs like CARE heighten public awareness around the need to recognize and appreciate the hard work and love that providers give to our children on a daily basis.”

To learn more about CARE please visit or email the CARE team at

HALF of NC Schools Commit to Expand Breakfast with Help from No Kid Hungry NC

No Kid Hundry North Carolina

No Kid Hungry North Carolina, under leadership of the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, and in partnership with the NC Department of Public Instruction (NC DPI) and the Southeast Dairy Industry, is inviting K-12 public schools throughout the state to participate in their second annual statewide school Breakfast Challenge.

The challenge is a pledge by school districts to do all they can to feed breakfast to more kids in their schools. By signing up for the challenge, schools pledge to take part in the No Kid Hungry mission to increase participation in breakfast. Challenge winners, the schools which display the largest percent increase, will be eligible for prizes.

In 2011, Share Our Strength teamed up with North Carolina leaders to launch No Kid Hungry North Carolina, a public-private initiative working to end childhood hunger through a variety of strategies in North Carolina.

According to the national No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices, North Carolina has one of the nation’s highest percentages of children who are food insecure; more than one-fourth of North Carolina children are at risk for hunger.  No Kid Hungry strives to eliminate this largely invisible epidemic by addressing three main goals: improve access to public and private nutrition programs that provide food to needy families and their children; strengthen community infrastructure and systems for getting healthy food to children and families; and improve families’ knowledge about available programs, as well as healthy and affordable food choices that will stretch the family food budget.

Last year, 920 North Carolina public schools participated in the Breakfast Challenge, more than one-third of the K-12 schools across the state.  The top 50 schools had breakfast participation increases ranging from 30 to 60 percent.  All top 50 schools adopted innovative alternative breakfast programs such as Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab n’ Go, or Second Chance Breakfast – models of service proven to help significantly increase breakfast participation.

Lou Anne Crumpler, State Director for No Kid Hungry NC, said, “We are very pleased with how many schools are committing to serve school breakfast to more kids. Such growth would not be possible without the great cooperation and support from NC DPI. USDA’s 2013 year-end report showed that North Carolina increased the number of children who received breakfast statewide by more than 10,000 children last year, and we’re hoping for a much larger increase this year.”

This year, the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is offering schools an opportunity to dramatically increase the number of children receiving breakfast at no charge.  The CEP allows schools that predominantly serve low-income children to offer nutritious school meals at no cost to all students through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. The CEP uses information from other programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Temporary Assistance Program for Needy Families (TANF) instead of traditional paper applications.  No Kid Hungry NC recommends that the 600 schools implementing CEP also enroll in the 2014 Breakfast Challenge to explore innovative, alternative ways to make breakfast more accessible to students, thereby increasing the number of children receiving these meals.

No Kid Hungry North Carolina is an initiative based at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.  No Kid Hungry NC is reaching out to school districts across the state through personal phone calls, bi-weekly email newsletters, involvement at school nutrition leaders’ events, along with information on their website:

Momentum for this year’s Challenge continues to build, and the number of schools committing to the Challenge already exceeds the numbers from 2013. The team reports that as of September 10, more than HALF of the 2,500 K-12 NC public schools have enrolled in the 2014 fall Breakfast Challenge, and more than HALF of the School DISTRICTS have enrolled ALL of their schools in the Challenge—quite a milestone!

The Challenge is designed so that ANYONE can enter their school, with approval from their principal. Enrollment for the Breakfast Challenge is open through September 30 at

For more information please contact:
Helen Roberts, No Kid Hungry NC, School Outreach Educator 

NC high school students embrace public health advocacy

Daquandra' Rankins

Daquandra’ Rankins

A group of North Carolina high school students are making strides in public health and youth advocacy, thanks to a partnership with the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and Strengthening the Black Family, a community-based organization in Raleigh.

The Youth Empowered Advocating for Health (YEAH) program incorporates high school students into the public health research process, and trains them as health advocates for their peers. The project originated with an HIV prevention and advocacy focus, but has developed into areas such as teen pregnancy and stress and obesity.

Recently, a group of YEAH youth participants presented their work at the UNC Minority Health Conference, and YEAH youth leader Marjorie Freeman introduced the conference’s keynote speaker.

“Seeing Marjorie introduce Gale Christopher was amazing,” said Alex Lightfoot, an HPDP researcher and YEAH Youth supporter. “She was just so confident and eloquent and she was funny. She did a fantastic job.”

Lightfoot, Ed.D., and Briana Woods-Jaeger, Ph.D., developed the YEAH program alongside community partners at Strengthening the Black Family four years ago.

YEAH youth participants and leaders have been trained in a number of community based participatory research techniques, and frequently use Photovoice, a photography based program used to explore health determinants among minority youth.

Lightfoot says the YEAH program acts as a catalyst for personal growth among the youth participants.

“I’ve been able to watch them grow so much as they’ve moved through the program,” she said. “It’s expanding their horizons hugely, and what they can do and how they can affect change.”

“You can see the spark in them, as they’ve presented their work at APHA and have grown into themselves. They’ve become so confident and self assured. It’s been inspiring.”

For the last three years, the YEAH youth have been able to attend and present their work at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting.

“Presenting at APHA was huge,” said DaQuandra Rankins, a YEAH youth leader. “I didn’t recognize how huge it was going to be until I got there. And each year has gotten better and better.”

Rankins has attended APHA all three years, and has traveled to New Orleans and San Francisco with to present his work with YEAH.

“I’ve been all over the United States, and I feel like I have advocated,” he said. “I feel like I’ve done my job, and what I’m supposed to do, and I’m happy.”

Eleven student researchers graduating this year

Commencementcrowd1Each year HPDP welcomes students as part of our research teams. We hire undergraduate and graduate students to give real-word experience in implementing public health research. This year, eleven HPDP student researchers graduated on May 11. They are:




  • Elizabeth Alexy, MPH in Nutrition
  • Natalie Allcott, BSPH in Nutrition
  • Laura Bach, MPH in Health Behavior
  • Zach Freshwater, BA in Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Lindsey Haynes-Maslow, PhD in Health Policy and Management
  • Colleen Lynd, BSPH with highest honors in Nutrition
  • Paula Munoz, BSPH with honors in Nutrition
  • Mieka Sanderson, MPH, Health Behavior
  • Kathryn Stein, MPH, Health Behavior
  • Lindsay Tague, MPH, Health Behavior
  • Rose Watson-Ormond, MPH, Health Behavior
  • Amy York, BA in Sociology