America's Deadly Diet

The Lempert Report
September 14, 2022

Phil: So the US diet is deadly, says NPR. What they find is diet-related deaths out-ranked deaths from smoking. About half of the US deaths from heart disease, nearly 900 a day are linked to poor diets. So 450 people are dying a day because of poor diets. The good news is that the Biden administration is holding for the first time in 50 years, the White House conference on hunger, nutrition, and health on September 28th. We're gonna be reporting about that. But let's talk about these seven things that this committee has come up with as ways for us to combat this deadly US diet. 

Sally: Yes. And you know, some of these, we have been seeing this happening. So number one, for example, treating food as medicine, we are starting to see more and more people in the medical field that are learning in medical school, how to treat patients with food. We are seeing new programs coming out of pharmacies and out of retailers that are supporting food prescriptions. So, you know, I think we gotta keep the ball rolling on that one. More of that. 

Phil: Absolutely. And our friend Marion Nestle has always talked about number two, which is a focus on the quality of calories, not just the quantity. And that's something, whether you're, uh very upscale, you eat well, or you're on SNAP benefits. It's the quality of what those calories are. That's the way you've gotta think of not just empty calories. Number three is to expand access to dietary and lifestyle counseling to your point. That's what the Retail Dietitian's Business Alliance (RDBA) is all about. You know, educating and empowering people in the store on how to eat. Number four, I really like, supporting food entrepreneurs. This task force is reaching out to the federal government saying let's help these startups that, frankly, are creating new healthier products. Forget about funding junk food companies. Let's just fund this. Also number five, increase the number of new farmers that are growing healthy foods, using regenerative farming techniques, make school meals free for all students is number six. 

Phil: Number seven, I disagree with. I've heard this for my entire career. Establish a federal Food Czar. The term Food Czar itself is a turnoff. You know what we do need is we do need consolidation. If we take a look at the $150 billion a year that the government spends that's across I think, 21 different departments. So yes, we do need somebody that's in charge of all this, then that can coordinate it. Frankly I think that's Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, but let's say he's too busy with everything else. But let's not call it Food Czar, let's get rid of that vernacular. The same reason that other other phrases, whether it's GMO or other things go south. Irradiation, which is probably one of the best technologies we've got, you know, it's scary. Why can't we just call it, you know, Head of Food or something that people can relate to and not be scared of Food Czar. Come on, get a better term.