The challenges of nutrition policymaking

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In my over three decades of work in the field of food and nutrition, I have participated in many efforts that seek new policy initiatives in the hopes that these programs can curb rates of obesity and chronic disease and help consumers make healthier dietary choices. Because of the profound effect that many of these policies have on consumers, the food environment, federal nutrition assistance programs and subsequent policy and regulatory recommendations, it is imperative that only the strongest, best available evidence is used to set policy. This review evaluates methods by which current nutrition policies use scientific research as well as provides recommendations for how best to ensure future nutrition policies are truly science-based and likely to have a meaningful impact on public health. Specifically, this review will: • Describe the current food and nutrition policy environment in the US • Examine how science is used in federal food and nutrition policymaking efforts, using the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) as an example • Describe strong versus weak science as well as what types of studies are most appropriate for use in policymaking • Discuss the potential effects and consequences of making policy recommendations in the absence of scientific consensus or agreement • Make recommendations to support the present and ongoing development of science-based policy likely to positively impact public health

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15
JournalNutrition Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author thanks Sarah Levy, MPH, RD, for her support in the development of this paper, which includes assistance with outline development and revision of drafts. Ms. Levy is a Vice President with FoodMinds LLC, a food and nutrition affairs company that represents a range of food, nutrition, and wellness organizations. During this paper’s development, she worked for FleishmanHillard, a global communications agency that represents the Corn Refiners Association. This paper was funded by an unrestricted grant from the following organizations: Corn Refiners Association, Grocery Manufacturers Association, International Dairy Foods Association, American Beverage Association, National Confectioners Association, and American Meat Institute.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Slavin.; licensee BioMed Central.


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