Food, Nutrition, and Obesity Policy Research: Improving health and well-being associated with food, nutrition, and physical activity

Some of the most complex issues faced by our global community encompass the food and agriculture sectors; addressing these issues requires informed and innovative policy options with interdisciplinary perspectives.

The RTI Center for Applied Economics and Strategy (CAES) provides clients with a full spectrum of analysis options; to accomplish this work, we use advanced tools and methods and leverage internal cross-discipline expertise as well as longstanding global research partnerships. Our research portfolio ranges from region- and sector-specific economic studies that result in improved food choices and accessibility for consumers, to global assessments that incorporate health, environmental, and economic indicators that help agricultural markets work smarter. 

Our team evaluates impacts and policy options across climate change, global food trade, accessibility, bioenergy, and health outcomes related to food production and consumption. For example, our experts 

  • Model the impacts of climate change mitigation policy on the (1) agricultural and forestry sectors and (2) economy for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) climate change division
  • Develop decision support tools related to international trade negotiations for the Trade Impact Model for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Foreign Agricultural Service
  • Support regulatory impact assessments in areas such as Renewable Fuel Standard for EPA as well as ongoing analyses to understand the worldwide economic and environmental implications of biofuels 
  • Create cost models to determine how to manage resources for food production amid environmental changes; our team developed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Labeling Cost Model and FDA Reformulation Cost Model.

CAES leverages a core team of applied agricultural, resource, and environmental economists supported by experts in various other disciplines—including computer science, statistics, survey design, process engineering, geography/geographic information systems, and rural economy. To facilitate these analyses, our economists develop and utilize existing models that capture the essential economic and environmental relationships, employing a variety of analytical methods. 

Such tools can be leveraged to support decision-making and prioritization of resources across various applications. Policy options that can be evaluated include regulation, market-based policies, trade policies, and voluntary programs that vary in their implementation over space and time. Our team views study scoping and design as a collaborative process—one in which our clients not only value upfront discussions about the benefits and challenges across alternative approaches but also weigh options with project objectives to ensure successful outcomes.