White House tackles nutrition and health

The Biden Administration hosted the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health on September 28 — the first nutrition conference hosted by a president in 53 years. 

The conference came with plenty of excitement about the attention to nutrition and health but also left many wondering how anything will change.

I was fortunate enough to interview Virta Health President Kevin Kumler and award-winning journalist and author Nina Teicholz about their takeaways from the meeting. You can watch that interview here.

Kumler attended the meeting in person and came away invigorated and optimistic. He was impressed by how the public and private sectors worked together to brainstorm how to improve what we eat and lessen the impact of chronic disease.

However, many of the resulting recommendations are vague. For instance, Teicholz wonders if this conference’s findings represent “more of the same.” Is it just another chance to entrench the ill-conceived recommendations to eat a high carb, low fat diet full of grains and fruit? In other words, did the conference reinforce the same recommendations that have failed to improve our country’s health over the past 50 years? It looks like that’s indeed possible. 

Teicholz and I also discussed whether this moment presents an opportunity to reform the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). As we discuss in our most recent podcast, the DGA haven’t changed much over the past few decades, despite a 2018 government-funded study mandating multiple improvements. The DGA still rely on poor-quality science and have no clear rules about which studies they exclude from consideration. 

However, with Teicholz’s work with The Nutrition Coalition and Kevin’s work at Virta Health, perhaps we will start to see the tide changing to allow a broader discussion of nutrition and health beyond the standard failed advice of the past 50 years.

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