WASHINGTON — A report released Tuesday in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health presents an ambitious, but needed package of 60 policy recommendations for combating diet-related disease, reducing disparities, and creating a more sustainable food system. At a time when the nation’s attention is rightly focused on combating the coronavirus, work must continue to strengthen our nutrition programs, lessen the food system’s impact on the planet, and reduce the epidemic of diet-related disease that is weakening our nation’s resilience.
The “Report of the 50th Anniversary of the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health: Honoring the Past, Taking Actions for our Future,” was developed by a 16-member report workgroup, co-chaired by Dr. Walter Willett, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Jerold Mande, Professor of the Practice at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Co-authors include Cathie Woteki, a professor of food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University and former Dean of its College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
The report is the culmination of a series of events honoring the 1969 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health. The 1969 White House Conference was a seminal event in food and nutrition policy that led to marked improvements in hunger and malnutrition through federal action. The anniversary report authors recognize that 50 years later the US faces a new nutrition crisis, one marked by increases in diet-related disease, widened disparities in accessibility and affordability of healthy foods, and added challenges of climate change and sustainability.
“This important anniversary offered an opportunity to reflect on how far our country has come in reducing severe nutrient deficiencies and extreme hunger, largely through federal bipartisan leadership.” said Dr. Willett. “But it was also a reminder that we still face enormous diet-related health and sustainability challenges and that progress is not possible without comprehensive, multi-sectoral action.”
The report’s recommendations span eleven broad categories, including federal nutrition programs, the food environment, healthcare, worksites, agriculture, government coordination, business, and research. Among the 60 recommendations, the authors highlight five key areas with the potential to deliver population-scale benefits:
1) leveraging the power of U.S. Department of Agriculture programs,
2) utilizing economic incentives,
3) protecting children from harmful advertising and marketing,
4) equipping health professionals with effective nutrition interventions and better nutrition knowledge, and
5) better aligning agriculture with health and sustainability goals.
“We hope that this document can serve as a unifying agenda, spark a broader dialogue on these issues, and inspire policy action on food systems and health, access and equity, and sustainability in 2020 and beyond,” said Mande.
At the time of its release, twenty-nine organizations have already signed-on in support of the report and its recommendations. Any organizations interested in joining as signatories should reach out to Jerold.Mande@tufts.edu.
Find the complete report and supporting materials, including the up-to-date list of signatory organizations, at https://sites.tufts.edu/foodnutritionandhealth2019/
— 50th Anniversary of the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, & Health