For the 14.3 million American households already experiencing food insecurity before the pandemic, shutdowns and restrictions have created new layers of hardship. Tremendous efforts are already underway to help. But the weeks to come will surely demand more creative solutions from the public and private sectors.
Too many Americans are being harmed by a food environment that lacks the necessary standards to make it easier for people to maintain a healthy weight. Policies aimed at portion control and cleaning up the food swamp could make a difference.
By instituting its innovative food warning label policies, Chile has become a beacon of light to countries around the world. The new government would do well to consider why it should maintain these policies, which in the long run will benefit business and the country as a whole.
Nearly 30 years into the ongoing global epidemic of obesity and chronic diseases, Chile has taken the lead in identifying and implementing obesity-control strategies that could prove to be the beginning of the end of the epidemic. The country's success on this front can serve as a lesson plan other countries could follow.
Rolling back nutrition standards means increasing risks for Americans and does not bode well for population health. Every effort should be made to maintain strong nutrition standards to protect the health of all Americans.
Although good intentions led to the new nutrition labels, it is unlikely that they will improve the quality of the American diet. The label changes have not been tested in a real-world setting with the various factors that influence what people buy.
A recent review of 72 studies on portion sizes confirmed that when served more than they need, people eat more than they should. And there is clear evidence that portion sizes are dramatically larger than those served in the 1980s.
In June, the FDA gave manufacturers three years to remove artificial trans fat from the food supply. This is an important step, but solving the problem of diet-related chronic diseases is much more complex than banning a single additive.
Everyone needs food, water, and shelter, yet society offers protective standards and regulations for just two of these three essentials. Food regulations focus on preventing illnesses like botulism, but when it comes to chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes, regulations offer little protection to U.S. consumers.
Thirty percent of all supermarket sales can be attributed to end-of-aisle displays, where retailers have placed more foods that increase the risk of obesity and chronic diseases. Relocating those foods to less conspicuous places would still allow those who want them to get them, but the decision to buy would be deliberate rather than impulsive.
To help people avoid overeating, the kinds of policies effective in controlling alcohol consumption should be applied to food — standardizing portion sizes, limiting impulse marketing and reducing the convenience and salience of foods most closely associated with obesity and chronic diseases.
Most people lack the information they need to judge or track the quantity and quality of the nutrients they consume. The FDA should take a disease prevention approach — as it is currently doing with trans fat — in promoting standards that address how all foods are prepared and served away from home.
A combination of things might well slow the obesity epidemic while also improving the American people's overall nutritional well-being: lowering prices on healthier food, initiatives to control portion sizes, and a long-term campaign to support better food quality.
Much of the talk has focused on how New York City's ban on sugary drinks, intended to curb obesity by improving dietary choices for consumers, will restrict individuals’ options. Of course, even after the ban, consumers can still buy a second soda. But they might want to take a moment to think about the consequences before doing so, writes Chloe Bird.