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Well-Being and Prevention

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics strongly believes that programs and policies that enhance population health and advance health equity are critical to promoting well-being and wellness and preventing disease throughout the life cycle.

Impact Goals:

  • Increase equitable access to food, nutrition and other lifestyle related services
  • Promote healthful eating and physical activity to improve population health and wellness at all stages of life

Significant investments in multilevel, multi-component, culturally appropriate and community-engaged interventions are essential to facilitate healthful eating and active living. Registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs), nutrition and dietetics technicians, registered (NDTRs) and other Academy members are uniquely positioned to lead development and delivery of evidence-based prevention programs and services; implement policy, systems and environmental change strategies across the life cycle and in a variety of settings; and conduct research to equitably improve wellness and prevent chronic diseases.

Chronic diseases such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and cancer are leading causes of death among Americans.67 More than half of adults in the U.S. have at least one chronic condition and nearly one-third have two or more chronic conditions,68 which account for 90% of U.S. health care spending.69,70 Furthermore, communities that experience systemic inequities (e.g., based on race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation or other reasons) are disproportionately affected by chronic disease and may also have limited access to healthful foods, safe places to play and nutrition-related services.71-74

While eating a nutrient-rich diet and engaging in physical activity are known to prevent chronic conditions,75 most people do not meet dietary and physical activity recommendations,76-78 and poor nutrition persists as one of the primary modifiable health behaviors that lead to chronic diseases.79-81 However, dietary intake and associated chronic disease outcomes are influenced by a number of factors including genetics, lifestyle, environment, policies and social determinants of health (SDOH).76,82,83 SDOH are non-medical factors that influence health outcomes and encompass conditions in which people live, learn, work, play, worship and age.84 Effective strategies to prevent chronic diseases require designing and customizing interventions to improve SDOH, ensure health equity and reduce health disparities in prevalence of chronic diseases.84-86 RDNs, NDTRs and other Academy members have championed public health approaches that have been shown to be highly effective in preventing chronic disease.87-90 Successful approaches incorporate multiple levels of intervention, including education and behavior change interventions and policy, systems and environmental change strategies to create environments that enable healthful behaviors throughout the life cycle.90,91 In addition, standards for federal nutrition programs are informed by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans76 and play a vital role in ensuring millions of Americans92 have access to healthful foods and environments that support healthful lifestyles.93-95

Guidelines from other public health agencies also promote healthful eating and active living across the life cycle.96,97 For more information on health disparities and equitable access to nutrition care services, see the Nutrition Care and Health Systems. For more information on improving access to safe and healthful nutrition, see the Nutrition Security and Food Safety.

To achieve and maintain individual and population health, there is a need for substantial investment in nutrition and physical activity interventions from both the public and private sectors.75 Equitable access to evidence-based prevention programs across the life cycle should be available to all.98 Furthermore, it is imperative to improve access and exposure to RDN and NDTR services to help manage and prevent disease and promote overall health, wellness and health equity.99,100 RDNs, NDTRs and other Academy members have a critical role in improving public and community health by facilitating improved lifestyle behaviors throughout the life cycle.100,101 These roles include generating and translating evidence to guide strategies that promote wellness and prevent disease across the life cycle, developing and implementing nutrition standards and shaping equitable evidence-based policies. RDNs, NDTRs and other Academy members also develop, lead, implement and evaluate programs that are culturally relevant and promote wellness and prevention across all stages of life.101,102 In addition, they individualize population-based recommendations to meet client needs and preferences103 and coordinate services between the community, public health and health care systems. Finally, RDNs and NDTRs and other Academy members function as key members of interprofessional teams to provide comprehensive care.

The Academy and its members are creating a future in which RDNs and NDTRs are routinely sought out and recognized for their unique contributions as key leaders in food and nutrition, health, well-being and wellness and disease prevention.

The Academy is strongly committed to increasing equitable access to healthful food, nutrition services and environments that promote healthful eating and physical activity to improve population health and wellness at all stages of life.

See references.

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