Cognitive-Behavioral Theory


Chapter 15 of Community Nutrition in Action discusses different theories in which people understand and achieve behavioral change. Many different theories have been created which attempt to explain why people make certain decisions that change their behavior. An example would be someone starting a diet and work out program because he or she is over weight.  A behavioral change like this will alter the daily life of an individual, usually creating life-changing benefits. But why doesn’t everyone change his or her behavior for good.  This chapter explains some of these theories.

One of the theories I found interesting was the Cognitive-Behavioral Theory.  The Cognitive-Behavioral Theory is usually applied when groups of people have a sense of self-efficacy, and are motivated to make a change in their behavior.  The theory deems all behaviors learned are directly related to internal factors (e.g. thoughts) and external factors (e.g. environmental stimuli and social response).   Applicants are instructed to follow different strategies to recognize thoughts and actions that lead poor eating and lifestyle habits.  Some strategies include goal setting, social support, self-motorizing, problem solving, and stimulus control.

A nutritional education plan could be created in high schools and colleges that follow the Cognitive-Behavioral Theory.  An example I thought of would be a class that students had the option to take, in which grades would be distributed by means of reaching certain health goals as the class goes on.  First, having the class be optional would filter out people who were not serious of changing their behaviors. Next, the class would allow students to create goals (e.g. lose 10 lbs or lower blood sugar).  Students could then be coached on how to attain these goals through eating habits and physical activity. Teachers could monitor student’s progress of accomplishing their goals throughout the course and grade them appropriately.


Farm to School



The National Farm to School Network is a program that enables schools to supply local food for their students.  Farm to School believes that feeding students with local food can provide many benefits to a society.  First, it teaches students and community members about connections between food and where it comes from; beginning with the farmer and their environmental impact to grow food, to the nutritional importance of fresh food.  The next benefit with the Farm to School program is improving students’ nutrition by feeding them more fruits and vegetables. This can reduce the occurrence of obesity, and help reduce hunger.  School can save money if farmers can plan on supplying food that is in season on a consistent basis.  It can create more jobs in a society, and adds new markets for farmers, ranchers, fishers, and processors.  Not to mention, keeping food local reduces the use of oil, reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses.

The program took a lot of time to be implemented.  It was first thought of in 1996, and the USDA supported the establishment of the program in 2000.  Many states began to organize schools and local farmers for the next 5 years, until in 2005 the first grant from Kellogg was given.  The website was then created, and the Farm to School Network blew up, and by 2008 over 2000 programs were established in 39 states.  By 2010, all 50 states had adopted a Farm to School program, and in 2011 the White House Task Force Report on Childhood Obesity recognized the Farm to School Network as a strategy for preventing obesity.

The Farm to School Network is a exciting new program designed to improve the health of schools and communities.  I feel that this is a much-needed change in our food system.  The jobs it can create, and the way it helps people seems almost to good to be true.  Hopefully it succeeds and continues to grow.

Obesity Monitoring

                                                           Obesity is a rising threat to our nations overall health. It can be very costly to society because it increases the risk of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and selected cancers, just to name a few.  Nearly 130 million Americans live with at least one chronic disease, that’s 45% of the population, and its estimated that by 2025 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with a chronic disease. This has lead to an increase in demand for health care.  Obesity alone is said to cost U.S. companies 13 billion dollars annually to cover insurance.(1) Obesity rates are more common in low income neighborhoods.  The availability of high energy food that contains fat and sugar is more common than whole grains, fruits and vegetables.  Not to mention the cost of these high energy quickly prepped (if any) meals are cheaper than other healthier alternatives.

One of the best ways to tackle the issue of obesity its through the school systems.  Students are much easier to help with issues like this because they are grouped together on a daily basis.  Teaching health and nutrition education at a young age can prevent obesity, and help guide students toward healthy eating and living habits.  Schools should not cut physical education out of their curriculum.  Instead physical activity should be availably to students daily.  Healthier varieties of food should be available during school breakfast and lunch.  As students become older, cooking classes should be available to teach of the importance of a balanced meal, and dietary intake. Monitoring programs could take place, in which data would be collected on nutritional intake, daily physical activity, and nutritional knowledge.  This type of monitoring system in schools could drastically reduce the rate of obesity.  Not to mention create jobs.  If actions do not take place soon to stop the rise of obesity, future generations will become more dependent on health care, and possibly lower the life expectancy of the average American citizen.

Cite.   (1)

Nutrition and Food System Policies


         Policies are enacted when actions need to be taken in order to fix a problem.  Problems exist when there is a gap between the way things are and the way things should be.  There are five main steps when creating a policy. 

            Step one is problem definition and agenda settings.  This first step in the policy process is to convince other people that a problem exists, and is possible to fix.  Once a group of people become aware of a problem, the idea becomes a policy agenda, meaning an issue that exists in society. At this point, supporters want to expand the public’s knowledge and interest on the problem by using TV, newspapers, internet, and any other form of media.  The next step is the formulation of alternatives.  Solutions to the problem are thought out in this step.  People from all different backgrounds come together to solve a problem.  Groups could include experts in a field, interest groups, or anyone interested in the issue at hand.  Phase 3 is policy adoption.  Tools are chosen to fix the problem, such as money, grants, loans, tax breaks, fines, and programs.  Federal departments are concerned with this phase.  The DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) are involved when a policy affects human health and/or provides essential services to improve the health of Americans.  The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) provides natural resource leadership.  USDA involves itself with policies that ensure access to nutritious food and provide dietary guidance to Americans.  SNAP (Supplemental Nutritious Assistance Program) is an example of a policy within the USDA.  The fourth step is policy implementation.  This happens when the best solution has been found, the tools have been chosen, and the policy fits the needs and wants of the intended clientele. The policy is put into action during this phase.  Next the policy must be evaluated to see if it is working correctly.  Surveys and tests are conducted to see if people are happy, or if there are any alternatives to the policy that could be changed.

            Policies play a big role in nutrition and food system reform. Polices are constantly changing due to new markets, scientific and technological breakthroughs, and consumer attitudes. The American Dietetic Association is addressing current policies related to good systems and nutrition.  An example is child nutrition, which maintains local school wellness policies; improve nutritional food availability to children during breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Another example is food safety, which implements ideas/actions to overcome threats of food insecurity.  This addresses food access, consumer protections, food information such as labeling ingredients and location. 

            Policy can change the overall health care system as well.  In terms of obesity, food production and transportation innovations have reduced costs of pre-made meals and processed foods, which is directly linked to increased calorie intake, which is a major factor behind obesity.  Policies could be made to limit the amount of processed foods available to children in school.   The Coordinated School Health Program is a policy that promotes healthful behaviors at school.  It focuses on health education, physical education, health services, nutritional services, counseling and social services, healthful school environments, and health promotion of staff and family.  Most policies dealing with obesity usually involve children because its important to focus on prevention at a young age, kids food habits are still malleable, and children are easier to round up because there all in school. 


Americas corpulent students


I’m a strong advocate of food systems education.  In the future I would love to provide schools with fresh, healthy food.  Children, teenagers, and adults should be familiar with the process of getting food from a farm, to their kitchen.  One day, I envision myself educating high school students about the health and economic benefits of local agriculture.  Some schools are starting farm to school programs, which provide students locally grown food during meals. I truly believe reducing the amount of processed foods and increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables (especially fresh, local) in students’ diets will raise grades, and overall health and attitude.  This in turn will help create an efficient learning environment.

Collecting data from students can expose their lifestyle choices and eating habits.  This allows teachers and parents to identify issues, and begin to resolve any health problems the students have.  Surveying students would be the best way of collecting data about food intake and individual lifestyles.  Some lifestyle factors that influence health would be leisure and physical activity, drug and alcohol intake, and food choices.  Data could be collected about dietary influences, such as family members or friends, and food preferences.  The weight and height of students could be collected as data to determine physical health.  Data could also be collected on the attitudes of students; weather students are feeling depressed or lazy during school can directly be caused by inadequate nutrient uptake.

Example survey questions:

What food do you eat the most?

What is your favorite food?

Where to you get your food?

Do you eat raw fruits or vegetables on a daily basis?

Do you eat processed foods on a daily basis?

What have you eaten in the past 24 hours?

Sources such as GIS (geographic information system) which is a mapping system of local grocery stores, farmers markets, community gardens, and emergency food locations can be helpful when determining local food availability/supply.  The US Census Bureau posse’s data on income levels in America.  This can affect family’s food choices, because healthier food tends to be more expensive.  Community Nutrition Mapping Project is part of the USDA and is a system that indicates food and nutrition on a national level.  CN map is separated into 5 categories: nutrient uptake, healthy eating patterns, physical activities, body weight, and food security demographics.

There seems to be an understanding that our countries educational system can improve, and the health of our young population needs to improve.  I hope to one day supply schools with fresh food, and teach students how to grow food and eat healthy.

Mini Report: Land use planning for sustainable food systems. By John Ikerd


This journal discusses the need for agricultural land in future generations.  There needs to be a general understanding of the importance of effective land use planning and zoning to develop sustainable food systems. Fertile agricultural land must be available for future generations to grow food.   Land use planning is a critical function of sustainable government planning.

The term sustainability ultimately means meeting the needs of present generations without compromising the needs of future generations. This is a long-term idea.  Which contrasts the idea of economic value.  Economic value is focused on present times.  Humans would rather have something now, rather than wait weeks for it.  This explains why we pay for goods on interest.  Economic value is worth nothing to us when we die, so depleting our natural resources for money is not frowned upon, rather expected.

Land needs to be treated as a common good, rather than a public good.  Land was not created by anyone, so it should not belong to one individual. If people are allowed to own land, then everyone should have a say about the use of it.  People should still be able to profit off their land, as long as they are considering the future productivity of the land.

Agriculture runs on fossil fuels.  One day, the world’s civilizations will deplete all fossil fuels, and future generations will discover ways to grow food with renewable energy.  But land is necessary for the growth of food, regardless of the renewable energy sources available. If present generations do not prioritize the needs of land for future generations, there will be no land to grow food.

Governments need to designate large areas of land for sustainable agriculture. Soil management techniques need to begin on all areas of land that are currently used for agriculture.  Techniques such as reducing soil erosion, minimal tilling, and building organic matter in the soil will keep land fertile for future generations. Society can create these changes, but a public consensus needs to be established to start the fire.

Right from the heart……… and stomach

             Community nutrition plays a huge role in the development of a society’s nutritional status. Teaching small communities the benefits of eating healthy is the first step toward improving our countries health and well-being.  It sounds very simple, almost redundant, but it can be done.  We have all learned that eating our vegetables and staying active will keep us healthy; some more than others. But there are things like double cheeseburgers that are cheaper than tomatoes, and candy bars that are cheaper than apples.  People need to wake up and understand that there is a problem with the food system and eating habits in our country.

             There are programs in this country to improve societies nutrition. Government agencies such as the FDA and USDA ensure that the food we eat is safe, and readily available to the public. Yet salmonella outbreaks are increasing every year, and there are 48 million Americans that live in food insecure households.  There are programs designed to supply families with quality food in times of need, such as food banks.  And there are services designed to teach families correct eating habits, and healthy cooking techniques.  Schools are beginning to take a step further in nutrition education by teaching kids how to grow vegetables and cook healthy food.  Studies have shown that kids who eat an unhealthy diet have poorer grades in school than kids who eat a balanced diet.

             New scientific studies are coming out all the time proving that processed meats can lead to cancer, and fruits and vegetables can reduce cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. As these studies are becoming public, people are beginning to realize the benefits of nutrition, and are making healthy food choices.

            Teaching parents and children the benefits of nutrition can lead to great things for society.  There will be less health problems (diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.), which will lead to money saved from less doctor visits.  Jobs can be created (local farmers, dietitians, teachers) to improve a community’s economy, and increase local revenue.  Focusing on community nutrition will lead to a healthier, wealthier and smarter country.