Abstract

The persistent paradox of escalating obesity and chronic hunger in America offers compelling evidence that the nutritional needs of large segments of the US population remain unmet. The federally sponsored National Nutrition Summit, held May 30 and 31 in Washington, DC, provided a much-needed opportunity for our nation to consider these problems, and to reevaluate approaches to the issues of food, nutrition, and health. ADA was well represented at the summit, with hundreds of our members present.At the summit, federal officials offered myriad initiatives to address national nutrition and health concerns identified by participants. The 2000 edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans; a coordinated approach to behavioral nutrition research to include the popular weight-reduction diets; plans for formulation of a national approach to obesity from the surgeon general; and the revised pediatric growth charts, which provide norms that reflect our nation's ethnic diversity, were released. We hope that these initial offerings will stimulate a larger dialogue, with consensus and action on issues relevant to nutrition and health.1969 White House Conference RetrospectiveThe 1969 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health was a pivotal event. Called by President Nixon and chaired by Jean Mayer, then president of Tufts University, the conference gathered food and nutrition experts and advocates from across the nation and around the world to determine what could be done to improve the nutritional status of the US population. Domestic hunger, once a top priority, was contained due to agencies and systems initiated or augmented as outcomes of the 1969 conference initiatives: The Food Stamp Program; School Lunch, Breakfast, and Summer Programs; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and the creation of national dietary guidelines for healthy eating. These programs continue to benefit Americans today.Although obvious signs and symptoms of overt nutritional deficiency have all but disappeared from our national landscape, subtle signs of nutrient inadequacy and overt signs and sequellae of nutritional excess are rampant. Walk through any shopping mall in the country—the problems of overconsumption surround us. Ironically, obesity and poor food intake occur as Americans receive millions of messages a year that underscore the importance of healthy food choices and regular physical activity.At the same time, there is growing evidence of hunger in the United States. Despite our strong economy, one in 10 households, 30 million people, report food insecurity with great disparity in the occurrence of poverty and hunger across racial and age groups. Hunger on a global scale must be addressed.The US food supply today is global in origin. Foodborne illness is a growing concern. Although an inconvenience or annoyance for much of the population, it can be fatal in vulnerable segments of our population—infants, young children, pregnant women, frail elderly, and those who are immunocompromised.Even as we attempt to address these issues with a multitude of scientific and technical advances that have transformed food production and processing, consumer concerns regarding the nutrition, health, and environmental risks that may be associated with such advances are proving to be formidable barriers to technological progress. There is increased interest in organically grown food, even in areas of the world unlikely to be able to support or sustain such low-yield agricultural methods. The United States is not immune to these developments. As consumer concerns are more forcefully articulated, every aspect of global food production and regulation will be challenged. We are obligated to do more to assure consumers that their food supply is safe, nutritious, and environmentally sound.Creating a National Nutrition PolicyThe National Nutrition Summit offers a starting point to comprehensively reevaluate US food and nutrition policy. Its agenda focused largely on obesity and hunger, diet, and physical activity. But it laid the groundwork for building consensus on national and global food and nutrition issues, and in defining approaches that government and industry must take to improve and sustain health in the nation and the global community.Our vision is to be the leaders in the provision of food and nutrition services. To make this vision reality, ADA and its members must act to define and promote the food and nutrition policies and strategies that will best serve all Americans into the first decades of the 21st century.Today's challenges call for an innovative and comprehensive approach to food and nutrition policy that goes well beyond current food assistance strategies and regulatory and health legislation. It must attend to consumer concerns regarding food, nutrition, health, and the environment. It must level the playing field for the diverse disadvantaged elements in our society. It must be built on a solid base of scientific evidence, and yet be flexible enough to shift rapidly as advances in food, nutrition, genetics, medicine, and biotechnology demand. Its success will depend on adequate funding to support an ambitious agenda, and on education designed first and foremost to meet the needs of the American public to live healthier, more productive lives. This, I believe, is the significance of the National Nutrition Summit and its promise for the future. The persistent paradox of escalating obesity and chronic hunger in America offers compelling evidence that the nutritional needs of large segments of the US population remain unmet. The federally sponsored National Nutrition Summit, held May 30 and 31 in Washington, DC, provided a much-needed opportunity for our nation to consider these problems, and to reevaluate approaches to the issues of food, nutrition, and health. ADA was well represented at the summit, with hundreds of our members present. At the summit, federal officials offered myriad initiatives to address national nutrition and health concerns identified by participants. The 2000 edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans; a coordinated approach to behavioral nutrition research to include the popular weight-reduction diets; plans for formulation of a national approach to obesity from the surgeon general; and the revised pediatric growth charts, which provide norms that reflect our nation's ethnic diversity, were released. We hope that these initial offerings will stimulate a larger dialogue, with consensus and action on issues relevant to nutrition and health. 1969 White House Conference RetrospectiveThe 1969 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health was a pivotal event. Called by President Nixon and chaired by Jean Mayer, then president of Tufts University, the conference gathered food and nutrition experts and advocates from across the nation and around the world to determine what could be done to improve the nutritional status of the US population. Domestic hunger, once a top priority, was contained due to agencies and systems initiated or augmented as outcomes of the 1969 conference initiatives: The Food Stamp Program; School Lunch, Breakfast, and Summer Programs; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and the creation of national dietary guidelines for healthy eating. These programs continue to benefit Americans today.Although obvious signs and symptoms of overt nutritional deficiency have all but disappeared from our national landscape, subtle signs of nutrient inadequacy and overt signs and sequellae of nutritional excess are rampant. Walk through any shopping mall in the country—the problems of overconsumption surround us. Ironically, obesity and poor food intake occur as Americans receive millions of messages a year that underscore the importance of healthy food choices and regular physical activity.At the same time, there is growing evidence of hunger in the United States. Despite our strong economy, one in 10 households, 30 million people, report food insecurity with great disparity in the occurrence of poverty and hunger across racial and age groups. Hunger on a global scale must be addressed.The US food supply today is global in origin. Foodborne illness is a growing concern. Although an inconvenience or annoyance for much of the population, it can be fatal in vulnerable segments of our population—infants, young children, pregnant women, frail elderly, and those who are immunocompromised.Even as we attempt to address these issues with a multitude of scientific and technical advances that have transformed food production and processing, consumer concerns regarding the nutrition, health, and environmental risks that may be associated with such advances are proving to be formidable barriers to technological progress. There is increased interest in organically grown food, even in areas of the world unlikely to be able to support or sustain such low-yield agricultural methods. The United States is not immune to these developments. As consumer concerns are more forcefully articulated, every aspect of global food production and regulation will be challenged. We are obligated to do more to assure consumers that their food supply is safe, nutritious, and environmentally sound. The 1969 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health was a pivotal event. Called by President Nixon and chaired by Jean Mayer, then president of Tufts University, the conference gathered food and nutrition experts and advocates from across the nation and around the world to determine what could be done to improve the nutritional status of the US population. Domestic hunger, once a top priority, was contained due to agencies and systems initiated or augmented as outcomes of the 1969 conference initiatives: The Food Stamp Program; School Lunch, Breakfast, and Summer Programs; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and the creation of national dietary guidelines for healthy eating. These programs continue to benefit Americans today. Although obvious signs and symptoms of overt nutritional deficiency have all but disappeared from our national landscape, subtle signs of nutrient inadequacy and overt signs and sequellae of nutritional excess are rampant. Walk through any shopping mall in the country—the problems of overconsumption surround us. Ironically, obesity and poor food intake occur as Americans receive millions of messages a year that underscore the importance of healthy food choices and regular physical activity. At the same time, there is growing evidence of hunger in the United States. Despite our strong economy, one in 10 households, 30 million people, report food insecurity with great disparity in the occurrence of poverty and hunger across racial and age groups. Hunger on a global scale must be addressed. The US food supply today is global in origin. Foodborne illness is a growing concern. Although an inconvenience or annoyance for much of the population, it can be fatal in vulnerable segments of our population—infants, young children, pregnant women, frail elderly, and those who are immunocompromised. Even as we attempt to address these issues with a multitude of scientific and technical advances that have transformed food production and processing, consumer concerns regarding the nutrition, health, and environmental risks that may be associated with such advances are proving to be formidable barriers to technological progress. There is increased interest in organically grown food, even in areas of the world unlikely to be able to support or sustain such low-yield agricultural methods. The United States is not immune to these developments. As consumer concerns are more forcefully articulated, every aspect of global food production and regulation will be challenged. We are obligated to do more to assure consumers that their food supply is safe, nutritious, and environmentally sound. Creating a National Nutrition PolicyThe National Nutrition Summit offers a starting point to comprehensively reevaluate US food and nutrition policy. Its agenda focused largely on obesity and hunger, diet, and physical activity. But it laid the groundwork for building consensus on national and global food and nutrition issues, and in defining approaches that government and industry must take to improve and sustain health in the nation and the global community.Our vision is to be the leaders in the provision of food and nutrition services. To make this vision reality, ADA and its members must act to define and promote the food and nutrition policies and strategies that will best serve all Americans into the first decades of the 21st century.Today's challenges call for an innovative and comprehensive approach to food and nutrition policy that goes well beyond current food assistance strategies and regulatory and health legislation. It must attend to consumer concerns regarding food, nutrition, health, and the environment. It must level the playing field for the diverse disadvantaged elements in our society. It must be built on a solid base of scientific evidence, and yet be flexible enough to shift rapidly as advances in food, nutrition, genetics, medicine, and biotechnology demand. Its success will depend on adequate funding to support an ambitious agenda, and on education designed first and foremost to meet the needs of the American public to live healthier, more productive lives. This, I believe, is the significance of the National Nutrition Summit and its promise for the future. The National Nutrition Summit offers a starting point to comprehensively reevaluate US food and nutrition policy. Its agenda focused largely on obesity and hunger, diet, and physical activity. But it laid the groundwork for building consensus on national and global food and nutrition issues, and in defining approaches that government and industry must take to improve and sustain health in the nation and the global community. Our vision is to be the leaders in the provision of food and nutrition services. To make this vision reality, ADA and its members must act to define and promote the food and nutrition policies and strategies that will best serve all Americans into the first decades of the 21st century. Today's challenges call for an innovative and comprehensive approach to food and nutrition policy that goes well beyond current food assistance strategies and regulatory and health legislation. It must attend to consumer concerns regarding food, nutrition, health, and the environment. It must level the playing field for the diverse disadvantaged elements in our society. It must be built on a solid base of scientific evidence, and yet be flexible enough to shift rapidly as advances in food, nutrition, genetics, medicine, and biotechnology demand. Its success will depend on adequate funding to support an ambitious agenda, and on education designed first and foremost to meet the needs of the American public to live healthier, more productive lives. This, I believe, is the significance of the National Nutrition Summit and its promise for the future.

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