April 10, 2013

Last April, UCSF researchers gave an informative presentation about sugar and its impacts on health. So much has happened since then in terms of new research and emerging national and global strategies, and we are pleased to revisit this topic with Laura Schmidt and Tekeshe Mekonnen. The Youth Leadership Institute’s Nutrition Soldiers will present a local strategy about changing the food environment in Bayview Hunter’s Point.

LAURA A. SCHMIDT, PhD, is a Professor of Health Policy in the School of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. Dr. Schmidt is also Co-Director of the Community Engagement and Health Policy Program for UCSF’s Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. Dr. Schmidt has dedicated her career to intervening on the social determinants of health, and to understanding how lifestyle risk factors, such as alcohol and poor diet, influence chronic disease and health inequality. The hallmarks of Dr. Schmidt’s substantive research and teaching are the use of mixed methods and translational approaches for evidence-based policymaking. She is currently engaged in efforts to address obesity and alcohol problems in the San Francisco Health Improvement Partnerships. The goal is to improve the health of all San Franciscans, while reducing health disparities, through partnerships of academics and CBOs that deploy evidence-based interventions, ranging from local controls on alcohol sales, to sugar taxation, to supported housing for the homeless. View Laura’s presentation (PDF).

TEKESHE MEKONNEN, MS, is a Project Manager with the UCSF Center of Vulnerable Populations. She works directly with Dr. Bibbins-Domingo on projects using the Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) Policy Model, including (1) evaluating the benefits of reducing dietary salt in today’s teenagers on future cardiovascular disease as they become young adults, (2) projecting the impact of the rise in California’s adolescent obesity and the associated health outcomes and financial burden, (3) modeling the impact of sugar-sweetened beverages reduction on diabetes in California. Ms. Mekonnen’s research experience includes HIV treatment adherence and ethnographic studies of end-stage breast cancer. Previously, she was the Project Coordinator at the Women’s Cancer Resource Center in Oakland where she worked on expanding the reach and cultural/linguistic accessibility of breast cancer education programs to Ethiopian immigrants. Ms. Mekonnen completed her BA in Business Administration in Ethiopia and her MS in Health Care Administration at California State University, East Bay. View Tekeshe’s presentation (PDF).

NUTRITION SOLDIERS is a group of youth at 3rd Street Youth Center and Clinic in Bayview Hunter’s Point. The Nutrition Soldiers are supporting the work of community organizations in Bayview that are invested in improving the community’s access to healthy food through food assessments, store makeovers, and relationship building with local corner stores and markets. The Nutrition Soldiers are developing a media marketing campaign to build the demand for healthy food in BVHP. View YLI’s presentation (PDF).

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