On Wednesday, September 28, the Biden administration hosted the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health and released a National Strategy to end hunger and increase healthy eating and physical activity by 2030. In announcing the strategy, President Biden highlighted better nutrition as a key to tackling the rising prevalence of diet-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and certain cancers in the U.S. He also acknowledged that the consequences of food insecurity and diet-related diseases disproportionately impact historically underserved communities. NACCHO recognizes that there is a strong relationship between consumption of unhealthy food and individual health issues, therefore, developing initiatives that increase the accessibility, affordability, and availability of healthy foods can help prevent and reduce chronic diseases.
The National Strategy outlines actions the Biden administration will take, legislative asks of Congress, and recommendations for other governmental and private sectors, and is organized around five pillars:
- Improving food access and affordability
- Integrating nutrition and health
- Empowering consumers to make and have access to healthy choices
- Supporting physical activity for all
- Enhancing nutrition and food security research
As part of the National Strategy, the FDA proposed updating criteria for when foods can be labeled with the nutrient content claim “healthy” on their packaging. The proposed rule would align with the definition of the “health” claim with current nutrition science, the updated Nutrition Facts label, and the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Under the proposed definition, to be labeled with the “healthy” claim on food packaging, the products would need to contain a certain meaningful amount of food from at least one of the food groups or subgroups (fruit, vegetable, diary, etc.) recommended by the Dietary Guidelines, and adhere to specific limits for certain nutrients, such as saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. The proposed rule is open for comment until December 28, 2022.
Additionally, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) this week approved demonstration waivers that will allow Massachusetts and Oregon to test coverage for evidence-based nutritional assistance and medically tailored meals in their Medicaid programs. CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure applauded the states for addressing “the root social causes of health concerns.” Both states will monitor the demonstration projects and evaluate their outcomes and impacts.