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The Federal Government Keeps Making Nutrition Headlines

The current administration appears determined to weaken federal nutrition policy:

  • Flexibility on SNAP. The Supple­mental Nutrition Assistance Program, previously known as food stamps, provides a monthly food voucher for many of the most impoverished Americans. Until now, the SNAP program allowed for little state variance in determining how the program was delivered. However, in late 2017 the USDA announced that “customer service” would be one of the department’s three key focus areas. Customer service was defined as allowing states the flexibility to test new ways to administer their programs. In some capacity, this could be a positive development, as it might allow states like Maine that have applied for a waiver to eliminate sugary drinks from the SNAP program to do so (previously, the request for such a waiver was rejected). Other consequences could be negative, though.
  • Lower school-lunch standards. The USDA released an interim rule that would allow schools to serve chocolate 1% milk and grains that are not whole-grain rich—at least through the 2018–2019 school year. Also, schools no longer have to decrease sodium levels in school lunches. The government and advocates of the lax rules claim that children don’t eat the healthier foods, causing more waste, but the lower standards come just as studies show kids’ taste buds are adapting to the healthier changes.
  • Food advisory panel shelved. The Food and Drug Administration’s Food Advisory Committee provided
    guidance on food safety, food science, nutrition and other food-related issues for 25 years. The current FDA felt those services were no longer needed and announced it would disband the committee on January 1, 2018, saying it would rely on other standing committees and expert input to provide advice on food and nutrition.
Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD

"Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RDN, FAAP, is a board-certified pediatrician and obesity medicine physician, registered dietitian and health coach. She practices general pediatrics with a focus on healthy family routines, nutrition, physical activity and behavior change in North County, San Diego. She also serves as the senior advisor for healthcare solutions at the American Council on Exercise. Natalie is the author of five books and is committed to helping every child and family thrive. She is a strong advocate for systems and communities that support prevention and wellness across the lifespan, beginning at 9 months of age."

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