Two months ago I was in Baltimore for a conference focusing on healthy food access. Before the opening reception I squeezed in a run. With temperatures well below freezing, I ran down to the Harbor where the water was frozen and the cargo ships were still. There was hardly anyone in sight. I was amazed at the quietness blanketing the city. Read More
May 1st, 2015
April 29th, 2015
Unfortunately, there is no straightforward and easy way to explain what causes obesity. The Socio-Ecological Model (SEM) of Health attempts to address the question of how people become obese. The basic premise of SEM is that becoming overweight or obese is very complex and combines a number of factors that can impact health outcomes. Read More
April 21st, 2015
Last week, Congress hosted the first of several hearings about the upcoming Child Nutrition Reauthorization act. This act includes the National School Lunch Program, which is reauthorized every five years. In 2010, a bipartisan Congress passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA)—which brought nutrition standards for schools into accord with federal dietary guidelines. As implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the law also requires students to take at least 1/2 cup of fruits and vegetables. Read More
Forests, Agriculture, and Climate Change: Why the U.S. Needs Action, Not Just Accounting, in its INDC
April 3rd, 2015
The United States has now told the world what it intends to do about climate change in the 2020s, by submitting its INDC (“Intended Nationally Determined Contribution”) to the United Nations. As we found in our report Halfway There? in January, the U.S.’ land sector – agriculture and forests – could be a big deal for the climate negotiations in Paris next December. Of course, our actions to reduce fossil fuels will be critical, but land use is important both as a source of global warming pollution and a way to take it back out of the atmosphere. Read More
April 2nd, 2015
Every time I visit my hometown in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I go out for pizza with my parents. You’d think I’d be jonesing for a local pizza joint, but the truth is I want Pizza Hut. I grew up on their pan crust cheese pizza and it will always have a special place in my heart (and stomach!). So when I heard that Yum! Brands, Inc (Yum!), owner of Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell and America’s second largest fast food chain had come out with a new palm oil commitment, I was pretty happy. Read More
March 31st, 2015
In Part 1 on repackaging tobacco for a food fight, I focused on the tobacco industry’s arguments to misguide the public and influence policymakers. This week, I focus on public health’s arguments to counter tobacco and how we might extend this to the debate on the National School Lunch Program, which Congress is set to reauthorize this year. During the tobacco debate, the public health community focused on the individual rights of non-smokers, being the underdog in a fight against Big Tobacco (think “David versus Goliath”), and misinformation from the tobacco industry about the health consequences of smoking. Read More
March 26th, 2015
The day before yesterday, together with my UCS colleagues Lindsey Haynes-Maslow and Deborah Bailin, I went to the National Institutes of Health to testify on the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. This report, prepared by a committee of experts every five years, provides the basic information for federal food programs such as school lunches and SNAP (formerly called food stamps), and is used to create the official U.S. Dietary Guidelines that are the basis for the MyPlate graphics.
Lindsey, Deborah and I testified about different aspects of the DGAC report, and they have already put their testimony up on their blogs. Here is mine, which focuses on food sustainability issues such as the climate impacts of the American diet.
March 25th, 2015
Yesterday morning, I took a detour from my usual routine. Instead of strolling the 2 miles from my house to UCS’s office on K Street in Washington, DC, I hopped on the metro and rode up to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. There I met two other UCS researchers to attend a public hearing on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s scientific report with one consistent message: that we support the committee’s recommendations. Below is a copy of my testimony. Read More
March 24th, 2015
This morning, I woke up bright and early to allow for an extra long metro ride to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. I met two other UCS researchers outside the station. We walked together to the public hearing on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s scientific report with one consistent message: that we support the committee’s recommendations. Below is a copy of my testimony.