Newswise — CHICAGO — The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, as part of 90 public health advocacy organizations in the Coalition for Health Funding, released a new report today documenting the dire consequences of Congress’s deep cuts to public health programs in recent years.
“Faces of Austerity: How Budget Cuts Hurt America’s Health” illustrates how food security, food safety, senior nutrition programs and other critical public health initiatives have been compromised by cuts to programs that are designed to address such issues of public concern.
“Only a small portion of federal funding is devoted to keeping every single person in the United States healthy, which includes everything from preventing disease, to keeping our food safe, to ensuring that Americans have access to the food they need. Unfortunately, that small allotment of money has recently been subject to massive cuts,” said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy President Sonja Connor. “We need Congress to invest in public health to support families, communities and our nation and prevent worsening rates of diabetes, obesity and hunger. If we want to give this next generation a fighting chance, then we need to show them we are serious.”
According to the report, budget cuts have forced the layoffs nationally of more than 50,000 public health professionals who help ensure our seniors stay independent and healthy, monitor and respond to virus outbreaks, immunize children and inspect restaurants. Public health departments in 33 states and the District of Columbia have reduced their budgets. “Funds for public health overall, let alone the workforce, have been eroding for nearly a decade and sequester cuts have led to a situation that makes us all less secure and puts our health at risk. It only gets worse from here: while we have some limited sequester relief in 2015, we face the full impact of sequestration again in 2016 and for years to come,” Connor said.
Most federal public health funds are distributed as block grants through competitive awards processes to local mental health clinics, diabetes research labs and women’s health centers. They fund salaries, keep schools safe from virus outbreaks, and feed low-income seniors. Cuts to public health funding harm the fabric of communities, eliminating needed screenings, maternal and child health care, food and water safety initiatives, public hospitals and clinics, and programs that prevent diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and HIV/AIDS.
“If we want to secure our kids’ future and the future of this country, then we must all stand up and demand that Congress invest in public health, safety and prevention,” said Connor.
All registered dietitians are nutritionists – but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. The Academy’s Board of Directors and Commission on Dietetic Registration have determined that those who hold the credential registered dietitian (RD) may optionally use “registered dietitian nutritionist” (RDN) instead. The two credentials have identical meanings.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 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 at www.eatright.org.