Is SNAP-Ed Under Attack?

Is the Farm Bill’s Nutrition Education Program under Attack?

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Since the Farm Bill is up for re-authorization, Congress is currently threatening to cut one of its components. This component is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs’ nutrition education (SNAP-Ed).

SNAP-Ed empowers recipients to purchase healthy foods within a very tight food budget. The program employs hundreds of RDs in all 50 states. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ (AND) Farm Bill Work Group is making slight revisions to the 2012 Farm Bill Recommendation document to highlight the SNAP-Ed program among other aspects of the bill.

The recommendations include talking points related to:

          Empowering consumers

o   Maintain current funding for SNAP Nutrition Education (SNAP Ed), an effective program that empowers participants to change behaviors for healthy eating using knowledge tailored to their lifestyle.

          Provide access to healthy and safe foods

o   Protect and strengthen the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), key programs in our nation’s nutrition safety net.

          Assure a healthy and safe food system

o   Ensure funding for a variety of community-based and regional agriculture initiatives that expand the availability of regionally-grown food, create jobs, and promote economic development.

o   Support farm practices and policies that conserve soil, water, air, habitat and biodiversity, as these are essential to our survival, and help to assure that a next generation of farmers has access to land and the skills and incentives to grow healthy foods.

          Assure sound science for future evidenced-based decision making

o   Maintain funding for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Agricultural Research Service that includes Human Nutrition Research Centers for vital research to drive better nutrition, eliminate hunger, increase food security and healthy food systems and eliminate diet-related health disparities, including obesity and assure the availability of nutrition monitoring, food composition and related data.

o   Maintain funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grants in order to support food safety and nutrition research and a diversity of fruits, vegetables and nuts available to help people achieve the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Farm Bill overview:

The Farm Bill is a critical piece of legislation that determines not only what farmers grow, but what is available in the United States food supply. Farm policies have existed in the U.S. since the establishment of our country. The 1920’s brought about the first big shift in agriculture policies, focusing on direct government intervention to provide income support by increasing crop prices and controlling supplies. Legislation continued to support farmers through direct income payments and crop supply management until 1996. At that time fixed income support payments were removed, making a shift to the modern commodity payments currently in place, and focused on issues surrounding food safety, food assistance and the environment.

The most recent Farm Bill, 2008 Food Conservation and Energy Act, included several key provisions that impacted nutrition.

          – Renamed the “food stamp program” to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to reflect a modern program, putting healthy foods within reach for people.

          – Authorized a small pilot program, the Healthy Incentives Pilot, to research the effect of incentives in encouraging SNAP participants to purchase healthful foods such as fruits and vegetables.

        –   Created the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to coordinate agricultural research and Extension programs.

          – Established funding for new programs to support producers transitioning to organic agriculture and to increase research in organic agriculture.

So, now the real question is- what will happen next? Only time will tell….

AND Farm Bill

2012 Farm Bill recommendations

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Qatar Outdoes America in Obesity Rates?

Well, America isn’t the Only Heavy Hitter Anymore…

The obesity epidemic in America has obviously generated a lot of publicity, in recent years. And more specifically, West Virginia has been in that spotlight with its towering obesity rates, let alone its childhood obesity rates.

But, now Qatar has been given that title of being the most obese country in the world.  According to new data release by the Supreme Council of Health, about 70% of people in Qatar are overweight and some 41% are obese.

If you’ve read my blogs before, I have posted about the Middle East and its urbanization, associated with fast food chains and obesity rates. The rapid urbanization in Qatar, and many other states in the Arab Peninsula, following the discovery of oil has contributed to a sedentary lifestyle. Coupled with a lack of exercise culture and diets high in fats, salts and sugar, obesity has rapidly increased in the Middle East.

The rapid increase in obesity has led to an increase in several non-communicable diseases in the small Gulf country, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and some cancers. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), the rate of diabetes in Qatar has climbed to 20.2% of the population.

Often people think that they need to do a lot to prevent illnesses. That is not the case. Often simply making minimal changes will help. The incidence of these diseases can be significantly reduced by simple lifestyle changes, such as increased regular exercise and integrating healthier foods into your diet.

Just alone is 2012, studies showed that 45% of adult Qataris were obese and up to 40% of school children were obese as well. Many Qataris, especially dietitians, are worried that in the next 5 years that 73% of Qatari women and 69% of Qatari men will be obese. Combined with high rates of diabetes, often triggered by excess weight, this has become a national… Wait, now a global concern for the country. In 2012, 15.4% of adult had diabetes, with rates in children below the age of 5 ay 28.8%.

Qatar surpasses US in obesity

Qatar is World’s Wealthiest and Obese

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Happy RD Day!

Happy Registered Dietitian (RD) Day!!

March 13th celebrates Registered Dietitian Day! This celebration occurs every year during National Nutrition Month, which is March. RDs are the public’s go-to healthcare professionals when they need reliable nutrition information, in this field. RDs pull from their experience to create a personalized nutrition plan for people of every age. These are the professionals that are able to separate facts from fads and translate nutritional science into information you, the consumer/client/patient, can use!

Dietitians can improve the health of Americans and save money through healthcare costs. Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) provided by RDs is critical in preventing the top 3 chronic illnesses. It is well documented that MNT is associated with a decrease in utilization of hospital services of 9.5% for patients with diabetes and 8.6% for patients with cardiovascular disease. Also noteworthy is that participation in community-based programs that focused on improving nutrition and increasing physical activity had a 58% decrease in incidence of Type 2 Diabetes.

Registered Dietitians assist to promote a net decrease in healthcare utilization and costs for most people. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimates that in Idaho, for every $1 spent in wellness programs, companies could save $3.27 in medical costs and $2.73 in absenteeism costs. Some interventions have been shown to help improve nutrition and activity habits in just 1 year and had a return of $1.17 for every $1 spent. Reducing the average BMI in the state of Idaho by 5% could lead to health care savings of more than $1 billion in 10 years and $3 billion in 20 years.

Well, unfortunately Wild and Wonderful West Virginia isn’t as lucky as ole Idaho. West Virginia still leads the nation in obesity, and was recently named the state with the highest number of overweight residents in the union. According to the 2012 Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index released last week, 33.5% of West Virginia’s population is considered obese.

Mississippi is the closest with an obesity rate of 32.2%. Arkansas has a rate of 31.4%, Louisiana is 30.9% and Alabama is listed at 30.4%, to round out the top five.

Residents of the Mountain State believe that a reason for the high obesity rate is the change in physical jobs and increase in availability of fast food. The combination of lack of physical activity and the ready access of fast food and junk food in homes has really contributed to the epidemic. On the flip side of our state, nutrition-related efforts seem to be working as West Virginia is no longer in the top five for childhood obesity!

With the help from schools and communities, West Virginia is increasing physical activity and need for healthier foods. As a unit we are advocating and promoting activity and nutrition. I think it seems to be helping! All thanks to those RDs out there!!!

Job outlook: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nutrition and Dietetics careers are expected to increase much faster (by 20%) than other jobs by 2020 and faster than many other industries within health care. In 2010, the median annual salary for RDs was $53,250, at $23.60 an hour. And the number of jobs available in the nutrition and dietetics field was 64,400.

Money Bags

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Fat West Virginia

Nutrition in the Community

RD Day 2013

RD Day

Introducing the MyBowl

What is MyBowl?

The image for the new MyBowl campaign that Kelloggs has launched

MyBowl is an education tool that is an extension of the MyPlate food guide, used across the United States. MyBowl is designed to show how easy it is to meet dietary recommendations with meals served in bowls, like breakfast cereals.

MyPlate is a recognized education instrument developed by the USDA that brings to life the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, to help people get the most nutrition from their meals. A recent survey shows that 100% of RDs are aware of MyPlate and 99% of them agreed that it is a helpful tool. There’s an opportunity to help consumers further understand and apply MyPlate recommendations to meals people eat in bowls, too. Using specific visual cues, images, and icons are effective ways to educate the public. MyBowl helps illustrate and extend the message that all food groups can fit into all meals, even those traditionally served in bowls like cereal breakfast, soup, and salads. 95% of RDs expect the MyBowl graphic to be used in addition to MyPlate.

Like MyPlate, MyBowl is a simple visual cue to help people get the most nutrition from meals served in bowls. MyBowl is a simple tool that helps people understand how specific foods fit into “food groups”, like how a cereal breakfast with fruit delivers servings from “grains, dairy and fruit food groups”. MyBowl was purposefully created to match the features of MyPlate. The MyBowl colors are identical to those used in MyPlate. The positioning and size of the colored bands around MyBowl reflects different types and amounts of foods and food group combinations that could be enjoyed in a bowl. When used as an online interactive tool, the size and color of the bands around MyBowl will change to reflect the amount and type of foods actually in the bowl. ChooseMyBowl.com is an interactive site that features tips, tools and meal plans to show people how to make smart choices and enjoy a variety of food groups and nutrients in delicious bowl meals.

People need help starting the day with a balanced breakfast; research shows:

  • While more than half of all adults would like to eat breakfast every day, only one-third actually do.
  • Nearly all moms want their kids to eat breakfast every day; however, 40% of moms report their child doesn’t eat breakfast daily.
  • While nearly all toddlers and preschool-age children are eating breakfast, consumption of breakfast decreases as American children grow older. 77% of young children eat breakfast every day, but the number falls to 50% in the middle-school years and 36% among high school students.
  • The latest research from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) shows people who eat breakfast regularly have higher intakes of several vitamin and minerals.
  • The same research noted that breakfast skippers may not make up for missed nutrients at other meals during the day.

MyBowl helps people realize that eating breakfast can be a fast and easy solution to achieving a varied diet and meeting nutrient needs.

When it comes to breakfast, cereal with non-fat milk is a nutrient-dense choice eaten in a bowl, delivering several essential nutrients in less than 150 kcal per serving, on average. Cereal with milk is the leading source of 10 nutrients in children’s diets and provides four nutrients, including fiber, most likely to be lacking in kids’ diets. Cereal with milk may deliver good or excellent sources of the 4 nutrients of concern- calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and fiber. Studies show that cereal eaters have higher intakes of many essential nutrients including B vitamins, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D. Numerous studies show that a cereal breakfast is associated with a lower BMI in both children and adults. Cereal with milk is an affordable breakfast option- costing just 50 cents per serving, on average.

A cereal breakfast can help Americans get more fiber, which was noted in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as a “nutrient of concern”. Nine out of ten Americans don’t meet daily recommendations for fiber. On average, Americans consume just about half of the required fiber that they need each day. Many experts think Americans poor fiber intake is a public health concern for both adults and children, with potential consequences that may increase the risk for several chronic diseases and obesity. In a recent survey, 90% of RDs agreed that a cereal breakfast is one of the best ways to easily increase fiber intake. On average, Americans only get 18% of their daily fiber at breakfast.

The MyPlate design published by the USDA. This replaced the MyPyramid in June 2011, ending 19 years of USDA food guide diagrams.