The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health — A New 
National Strategy

A word from editor-in-chief Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH:


For the first time since 1969, the federal government has brought together stakeholders to create a sweeping plan to address nutrition in America. The second White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health took place on September 28, 2022, with bipartisan support from both chambers of Congress. The outcomes of this Conference have the potential to have a major impact on health in the United States.

History. The principal organizer of the first Conference 53 years ago was Dr. Jean Mayer, the founder of Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy. The policies formed or expanded after that Conference included many you are sure to be familiar with today: school breakfast and lunch programs; Food Stamps (now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Progarm, or SNAP); WIC (the supplemental nutrition program for pregnant mothers and young children); nutrition facts labeling; and modern dietary guidelines. These programs together helped to greatly reduce vitamin deficiency diseases (like pellagra) and chronic hunger in the U.S.

Today’s Problems. One in 10 U.S. households still face food insecurity (the struggle to consistently get enough food). More than half of American children have poor quality diets. We now also face epidemic levels of obesity and diabetes, and diet-related diseases have become the leading cause of poor health.

A New Strategy. As part of the Conference, President Biden announced a National Strategy designed to end hunger, increase healthy eating and physical activity, and reduce diet-related diseases by 2030. The new Strategy involves every federal department and agency, and calls on state, territorial, and Tribal governments, the private sector, civil society, philanthropy, and academia to address hunger, nutrition, and health. At the White House Conference, over 100 organizations announced new commitments totalling more than $8 billion, including the Friedman School.

The new Strategy includes plans for actions across federal nutrition programs, healthcare, public health, regulation, education, food procurement, physical activity, and research. Some highlights include:

Increasing access to major federal nutrition programs like SNAP, WIC, and school meals and raising nutritional standards and nutrition incentives for these programs

Increasing nutrition education for doctors

Increasing access to counseling by registered dietitian nutritionists

Advancing “Food is Medicine” interventions, including medically tailored meals, produce prescriptions, and Diabetes Prevention Program access

Introducing regulatory actions designed to reduce harmful additives like sodium and added sugar, limit deceptive food marketing, and provide new consumer tools to identify healthier foods

Implementing a major new national nutrition science strategy, including more funding and coordination across agencies, a greater focus on diversity and inclusion in research, a new focus on social determinants of health, and intersections with climate change

Improving physical activity spaces, opportunities, and participation

Strengthening local food systems through government procurement of healthier foods from local and regional farms

Encouraging private sector innovation to support food security, nutrition, and health

This new National Strategy could be a turning point in the U.S. approach to nutrition, food insecurity, and diet-related diseases. With sufficient commitment and support, the proposed plan has the potential to have a tremendous positive impact on food security, healthy eating, diet-related conditions, and health equity. The Strategy could also lead to more nutrition nutrition research, shedding light on many new, exciting areas and leading to new cutting-edge discoveries.

Together, these actions will have benefits for healthcare spending, private sector innovation and entrepreneurship, regional food systems, and sustainability. But having a plan is just a start—it’s also possible little may happen.

It’s critical for all Americans to raise their voices and say we can and must fix the food system. Through a whole-of-government, multi-sector approach, we can end hunger, advance nutrition and physical activity, and reduce diet-related diseases.

This article is adapted from a recent publication by Dr. Mozaffarian in the New England Journal of Medicine, published Dec 1, 2022.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here