What We Do
The Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition (formerly the Center for Human Nutrition) was launched in the summer of 1973 as the first center of its kind in the United States focusing on the health of underserved populations, especially youth. The Center was founded by Gretchen Swanson as an Omaha, Nebraska-based organization dedicated to addressing disparities in nutrition and health-related research. The Center still operates with an adaptive approach that extends its reach both locally and nationally to communities, other non-profit organizations, academic and government institutions and policy makers.
Key public health areas in which the Center provides scientific expertise and technical assistance include childhood obesity prevention, food insecurity, local food systems, and survey development and program evaluation. To carry out the mission and address issues in key areas, the Center also submits grants and contracts to build research infrastructure at the local, state and national levels. In addition, the Center has conducted pediatric clinical trials since 1985.
The Center partners with public health peers and clients to benefit the community at large through evidence-based research. We serve as a one-stop resource center for fellow scientists and community leaders by offering research services such as support in designing public health programs and interventions. We work to empower others with strong research design in order to improve research efforts, which in turn improves efficiency and effectiveness of public health programs and ultimately improves the health of society.
Valid and reliable measures are necessary to identify change that may occur as a result of a public health intervention and/or for national or state level health behavior surveillance purposes. The Center’s scientists engage in the development of surveys and assist partners in survey design and/or modification of existing survey instruments. This includes conducting psychometric testing (e.g., validity and reliability studies). Dr. Amy Yaroch, Center executive director, has helped in the development and evaluation of national surveys such as the National Cancer Institute’s Food Attitudes and Behaviors (FAB) Survey and the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS).