Food and Nutrition Policy Research

For more than two decades, our food and nutrition experts have been analyzing and evaluating the effects of policies and regulations affecting food and agriculture to improve health and well-being. We combine an in-depth understanding of a broad range of food policy topics with extensive quantitative and qualitative research capabilities.

Focus Areas

We conduct food and nutrition policy research across a broad range of focus areas. We study programs and policies affecting children, adults, seniors, vulnerable populations, and limited-resource households. Examples of projects, presentations, and manuscripts are available in the following areas.

  • Consumer food safety research
  • Economic and cost modeling
  • Food assistance and hunger
  • Food labeling research
  • Food safety and food defense studies
  • Food market analyses
  • Nutrition, physical activity, and obesity studies
  • Scanner data studies


Our research capabilities provide a foundation for addressing the complex and pressing food policy issues affecting the U.S. and international economy and public health. Our research staff offer a full spectrum of research capabilities.

  • Analysis and modeling: conjoint analysis, consumer demand system modeling, cost-benefit analysis, econometrics, economic modeling, nutritional epidemiology
  • Program and policy evaluation: formative research, process evaluation, outcome/impact evaluation
  • Education and training: content and curriculum development, training delivery, evaluation of training
  • Data collection: consumer and industry surveys by telephone/mail/web/in-person, dietary recall and food frequency, expert elicitation, focus groups and in-depth interviews, industry interviews, observation studies, virtual-reality shopping simulator [RTI iSHOPPE™]
  • Other capabilities: community-based participatory research, database design and maintenance, intervention development, literature reviews, scientific peer reviews


We conduct research for a broad range of state, federal, and international agencies and organizations. Our clients have included the following:

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (Agricultural Marketing Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Economic Research Service, Food and Nutrition Service, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Grain Inspection, Packers, & Stockyards Administration)
  • Food and Drug Administration
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • National Institutes of Health
  • Alliance for a Healthier Generation
  • Partnership for a Healthier America
  • International Life Sciences Institute
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Marketing to parents boosts positive effects of school nutrition classes, RTI researchers find

A combination of nutrition education for children and marketing targeted at parents resulted in children eating more ... Read more »


Mary K. Muth
Director, Food and Nutrition Policy Research
Sheryl C. Cates
Senior Research Policy Analyst
Jean Wiecha
Public Health Nutritionist