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‘Food Is Medicine’ Interventions Should Be the Main Course at White House Nutrition Conference

Much of the public’s perceptions around food as an intervention for health are dated. So are the U.S. government’s perceptions and its health care policies. Not by a matter of years, but by decades.

The last time the nation focused on food — from the top — was the 1969 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health. Among the important programs that were created or improved based on findings from that landmark summit are what is today called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program; school breakfast and lunch programs; the national approach to creating dietary guidelines; and the now-ubiquitous nutrition facts label.

Without a doubt, these programs have fed those in need, saved lives, and improved the overall health of Americans. But we face a new reality in the 21st century: Poor diets are a leading cause of death, contributing to high rates of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.