Magazine article The Nation's Health

Aligning Policies on Nutrition, Food, Environment for Sustainable Future

Magazine article The Nation's Health

Aligning Policies on Nutrition, Food, Environment for Sustainable Future

Article excerpt

IN 1977, a Senate committee released a report with recommended dietary goals for Americans. The goals began a major shift in U.S. national nutrition policy toward measures to reduce causes of death such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. The report suggested that Americans decrease intakes of salt, fat, sugar, cholesterol and meat, and increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish.

We now take such dietary guidance for granted, but we are a long way from eating patterns in line with these recommendations. Efforts to achieve these guidelines operate in concert with food security concerns, such as securing stable access to enough food to meet basic nutrient requirements.

This can be seen around the world. The World Health Organization and many nations have issued dietary guidelines to address a global epidemic of noncommunicable diseases that is far from limited to high-income countries. Global diets have converged such that the same principles for dietary change apply to some extent in all countries. The increase in noncommunicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries is more rapid, and has worse consequences than in high-income countries, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Moreover, the challenge of combating noncommunicable diseases along with under-nutrition is substantially greater in these countries.

When considering the disconnect between what foods are produced, manufactured and promoted versus those recommended to protect health, I have become increasingly aware that nutrition policymaking is not on an equal footing with food policymaking. …

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