The American Heart Association Strengthening US Food Policies and Programs to Promote Equity in Nutrition Security: A Policy Statement

Nutritionally inadequate dietary intake is a leading contributor to chronic cardiometabolic diseases. Differences in dietary quality contribute to socioeconomic and racial and ethnic health disparities. Food insecurity, a household-level social or economic condition of limited access to sufficient food, is a common cause of inadequate dietary intake. Although US food assistance policies and programs are designed to improve food security, there is growing consensus that they should have a broader focus on nutrition security. In this policy statement, we define nutrition security as an individual or household condition of having equitable and stable availability, access, affordability, and utilization of foods and beverages that promote well-being and prevent and treat disease. Despite existing policies and programs, significant gaps remain for achieving equity in nutrition security across the life span. We provide recommendations for expanding and improving current food assistance policies and programs to achieve nutrition security. These recommendations are guided by several overarching principles: emphasizing nutritional quality, improving reach, ensuring optimal utilization, improving coordination across programs, ensuring stability of access to programs across the life course, and ensuring equity and dignity for access and utilization. We suggest a critical next step will be to develop and implement national measures of nutrition security that can be added to the current US food security measures. Achieving equity in nutrition security will require coordinated and sustained efforts at the federal, state, and local levels. Future advocacy, innovation, and research will be needed to expand existing food assistance policies and programs and to develop and implement new policies and programs that will improve cardiovascular health and reduce disparities in chronic disease.

Read The Full Article at The American Heart Association


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