Thursday, December 09, 2010
2:00-3:00 (Pacific) / 5:00-6:00 (Eastern)
CME Credit Available
This last webinar in a four-part series will be moderated by Preston Maring, MD, Kaiser Permanente, and features Ted Schettler, MD, MPH, Science Environmental Health Network, Leslie Mikkelsen, RD, Prevention Institute, and Judith Bell, Policy Link.
The medical community has long recognized the importance of good nutrition. New food related diseases have created a public health crisis and exacerbated the financial health concerns of medical institutions. Diet-related medical costs for six health conditions—coronary heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity—exceeded $70 billion in 1995. And, by virtue of the increased resources focused on obesity, the crisis has become an issue for everyone, overweight or not.
Our current food system favors the production of animal products and highly refined, calorie-dense foods, rather than the fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and other high fiber foods important in prevention of these diseases. These food industry offerings are supported by US Federal Government subsidy programs, which favor five crops—corn, wheat, cotton, soybeans and rice—and account for two-thirds of all subsidies. As a result, if we were to compare food pyramid recommendations with government subsidies, they would be almost perfectly at odds. Fruit and vegetables, those foods recommended by the pyramid, receive little support, while meat and grains receive by far the most support.
Moreover, whether or not community residents have access to healthy foods in their communities has implications for individual health. Research suggests that the scarcity of healthy foods makes it more difficult for residents of low-income neighborhoods to follow a good diet, compared to people in wealthier communities. This presentation will provide an understanding of how our food choices impact health, the significance of the food environment on these choices, and opportunities for clinicians to influence food environments in service of health.