Michele J. Orza, ScD & Jessamy Taylor, MPP
To say "we are what we eat" may be overstating matters, but the connections between food and health are numerous and significant and, increasingly, a major concern of those seeking to improve health. The topic of food and health involves a wide array of local, state, and federal agencies and policies; provides numerous examples of intersections among nonmedical determinants of health; and illustrates the complexities inherent in a broad "health-in-all-policies" approach to tackling such determinants. The variety of recent legislation related to food and health currently being implemented includes the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011, and even the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. At the moment, many eyes are on what is commonly referred to as the Farm Bill (the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008), due for reauthorization in 2012. With its potential to affect everything from farming livelihoods to the food supply to the environment, many in the public health community view it as a major piece of health legislation. Discussions of food and health in the policy arena range widely from food safety to school lunch to menu labeling requirements, engage myriad perspectives from multiple sectors and walks of life, and demand from policymakers a broad knowledge base.
This Forum session was intended as an introduction to the connections between food and health and a foundation for future Forum activities focused on selected policy issues under this rubric. The speakers described and discussed emerging food science, trends in the supply and consumption of food and in food-related health conditions, the drivers of these trends, and proposals for addressing them.
- Sylvia B. Rowe
SR Strategy, LLC
Former President and Chief Executive Officer
International Food Information Council
"High Hopes: Public Health Approaches to Reducing the Need for Health Care" (Background Paper No. 78, September 27, 2010)
"Unusual Suspects: Focusing on Nonmedical Determinants to Improve the Nation’s Health" (Forum Session, November 5, 2010)
"Examining Federal Policy Options to Strengthen and Modernize America's Food Safety System" (Forum Session, June 6, 2008)
See also the International Food Policy Research Institute's "2011 Global Food Policy Report" (April 23, 2012)