Below is a letter from the Academy to the New York Times, in response to the publication of an op-ed titled “We Need Better Answers on Nutrition”.
February 28, 2019
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, agrees with the authors of “We Need Better Answers on Nutrition” (February 28) that a National Institute of Nutrition is long overdue. The U.S. is paying the price for overlooking the role of food and nutrition in promoting and maintaining good health, as the rates of preventable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity, among other conditions, continue to rise.
Six of the top 10 causes of adult deaths in the U.S. are attributable to lifestyle, including a poor diet. Clinical guidelines and medical recommendations including those for diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and obesity include cost-effective and evidence-based nutrition and lifestyle recommendations that are often bypassed in favor of costly drug or medical treatments.
In 2016, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics convened a summit of leading authorities from food and nutrition practice, research, business and education to examine how the U.S. and the world can foster an environment where all people thrive through the transformative power of food and nutrition. A conclusion of our conference: The United States needs a central science-based government entity that focuses on the nutritional well-being of the whole population. Such an organization is crucial, not only for individuals’ health, but for our national security and conservation of our country’s resources.
Existing government agencies such as the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services and Defense, and the Food and Drug Administration, administer a myriad of nutrition programs and services. However, there is limited coordination between these agencies that would ensure equitable access to potentially lifesaving nutrition services for people among disparate populations and across all stages of the life cycle. A National Institute of Nutrition would establish the evidence we need to most effectively guarantee that programs and services are based on science and that they are coordinated to accelerate people’s health and well-being.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics represents more than 100,000 credentialed food and nutrition practitioners — primarily registered dietitian nutritionists. We strongly support the concept of a National Institute of Nutrition and stand ready to advocate for it to become a reality.
Mary Russell, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND
President of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics