Newswise — CHICAGO – Echoing a new report by the Institute of Medicine that progress in the United States in addressing the obesity epidemic has been too slow, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) and its members, some of whom served on the IOM committee, are leading community nutrition interventions across the country that are showing a tremendous impact.
The IOM report and its goals agree with several positions and efforts undertaken by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, specifically:
Make physical activity an integral and routine part of life
“Through our Kids Eat Right and Energy Balance 4 Kids programs and partnerships with Fuel Up to Play 60 and the National Physical Activity Plan campaigns, the Academy is deeply involved at the community level, educating consumers on the importance of physical activity and how it, along with healthful eating, is the key to the prevention and management of diseases like obesity and diabetes,” said registered dietitian and Academy President Sylvia Escott-Stump.
Create food and beverage environments that ensure that healthy food and beverage options are the routine, easy choice
It is the position of the Academy that access to adequate amounts of safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food at all times is a fundamental human right. Hunger continues to be a worldwide problem of staggering proportions. The Academy supports programs and encourages practices that combat hunger and malnutrition, produce food security, promote self-sufficiency and are environmentally and economically sustainable.
“Dietetics professionals are uniquely qualified to develop relationships with elected officials and their staff members and to educate voters about the nutritional impact of policies and programs. There is an urgent need for nutrition professionals to become actively involved in seeing that the food assistance programs that support sustainable development are protected, improved and expanded,” Escott-Stump said.
Transform messages about physical activity and nutrition
It is the position of the Academy that the total diet or overall pattern of food eaten is the most important focus of a healthful eating style. All foods can fit within this pattern, if consumed in moderation with appropriate portion size and combined with regular physical activity. The Academy strives to communicate healthful eating messages to the public that emphasize a balance of foods, rather than any one food or meal.
Expand the roles of health care providers, insurers, and employers
For nearly two years, the Academy and its members have been building relationships and implementing tactics surrounding expansion of nutrition services under Medicare. The Academy worked with several members of Congress during the drafting of the Affordable Care Act to propose language that supported the role of the registered dietitian, and continues to hold dialogue with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regarding the expansion of coverage for medical nutrition therapy.
Make schools a national focal point
School nutrition is a top priority for the Academy. According to its Comprehensive School Nutrition Services position, one of three official positions on the topic of school and children’s nutrition:
…comprehensive, integrated nutrition services in schools, kindergarten through grade 12, are an essential component of coordinated school health programs and will improve the nutritional status, health, and academic performance of our nation’s children…by encouraging multidisciplinary wellness teams, composed of school and community members, to work together in identifying local school needs, developing feasible strategies to address priority areas, and integrating comprehensive nutrition services with a coordinated school health program.
"More than 1,200 Academy members belong to our School Nutrition Services practice group," Escott-Stump said. "These dedicated members are employed in child nutrition programs at the local, state and national levels; as researchers and educators; as corporate dietitians supplying products and services to school foodservice operations; as consultants in school nutrition and wellness; and in other fields where they help create healthier school environments."
Registered dietitians are uniquely qualified to improve the health of the public through effective weight management interventions and strategic partnerships. “For individuals and families, we need to get back to the basics of a healthy weight – following the healthful eating recommendations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and Choose My Plate, and engaging in regular physical activity,” Escott-Stump said.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ website contains a wealth of information on healthful eating for children, teens, men, women (including during pregnancy) and older adults. Individuals can also use the Academy’s site to locate a registered dietitian in their area.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at www.eatright.org.