The Politics of Fat: Food and Nutrition Policy in America

By Laura S. Sims | Go to book overview
The nature of the message. Will the dietary message continue to focus on "balance, variety, and moderation" in lieu of more specific, "less balanced," but perhaps more effective health-oriented dietary advice?
How can dietary guidance be made more effective in actually changing dietary behavior?
Although the validity of the dietary message is no longer in question, how can the government best implement these recommendations?
How should the informational gaps left by the Dietary Guidelines and the Food Guide Pyramid be filled by state and local governments, health groups, and pro-consumer players in the private sector?

Effective implementation of the Dietary Guidelines recommendations was the topic of the Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board's 1991 report, "Improving America's Diet and Health: From Recommendations to Action."17 Rather than relying solely on individual education strategies to change dietary habits (the mainstay of most government intervention efforts), the report recommended focusing on major sectors of society (such as government, the private sector [primarily the food industry], health care professionals, and educators) in order to increase the availability and accessibility of health-promoting foods and make such foods easily identifiable, economical, and appealing. While these approaches are certainly valid, consumers will continue to need some reasons for becoming interested in consuming these more healthful foods in the first place—hence, the continuing need for a federal role in dietary guidance.

Clearly the challenge is to educate the public so they can make more healthful food choices. Nutrition educators must provide the public not only with recommendations, but with practical knowledge and skills to help them change their diets to reduce the risk of chronic disease.18 The debate no longer focuses on whether a public health approach is preferable to a screen-and-treat approach, but rather how the overall population can reduce their dietary fat intake to more desirable levels.19 The strength of the evidence by which we can improve the health of the American people demands our best efforts and most effective actions.


FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION:
COMMODITY PROMOTION PROGRAMS

Commodity research/promotion programs (also known as "checkoffs") are efforts authorized by federal legislation and funded by commodity producers that

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