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Giving Compass' Take:
• Policymakers are working to create better food policies that help encourage nutritious diets for Americans that lead to positive health outcomes.
• What can philanthropists do to help support and progress food policy?
• Read about why food policy is important for food security.
In this new year, millions of Americans will make resolutions about healthier eating. In 2019, could U.S. government leaders further resolve to improve healthier eating as well, joining public health experts in seeing that food is medicine?
In 2018, Congress initiated a series of actions that represent a shift away from placing the full responsibility – and blame – on individual people to make their own healthier choices. These actions also show a growing recognition that many stakeholders – including the government – are accountable for a healthier, more equitable food system. This shift in thinking reflects an understanding that government can and should play a role in improving the diet of Americans.
Poor diet is among the greatest health and societal challenges of our time, causing death and disability, soaring health care spending, budget challenges for governments and private business, diminished military readiness and population disparities.
Diet-related diseases are major contributors to these expenses. For example, the annual medical and economic costs of heart disease and stroke are estimated at $316 billion; of diabetes, $327 billion; and of all obesity-related conditions, $1.42 trillion. These costs create enormous economic challenges for federal and state governments as well as for private American businesses, families, and individuals through rising health care premiums, out-pocket-costs, missed work and lower productivity.
As policymakers increasingly recognize the depth and breadth of these effects, they are beginning to act. In January 2018, House lawmakers created a bipartisan “Food is Medicine” working group, dedicated to innovations in nutrition policy to improve health and reduce diet-related health costs.
Read the full article about creating better food policies by Renata Micha, Dariush Mozaffarian and Jerold Mande at The Conversation