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Answering the call to end hunger and increase healthy eating and physical activity – The Hill

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Answering the call to end hunger and increase healthy eating and physical activity | The Hill

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President Biden convened the first White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in over 50 years, bringing experts from around the country together around a bold goal: to end hunger and increase healthy eating and physical activity by 2030.

As the co-chairs of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, & Nutrition, we are dedicated to responding to that call to action and invite all Americans to join us at this pivotal moment in renewing our shared commitment to creating a healthier America.

At least 1 in 10 U.S. households are food insecure, with more Americans relying on the emergency food system every day. For many households, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated food insecurity, revealing health disparities and inequities in the food system that we have yet to fully recover from. Meanwhile, rates of diabetes, obesity, and other diet-related conditions continue to rise. These diseases spare no segment of society; all of us have loved ones affected by a diet-related disease. Poor nutrition and physical inactivity are estimated to kill more than 10,000 Americans and cause 21,000 new cases of diabetes every week in the United States. 

Less than half of adults and fewer than 1 in 4 young people get the recommended amount of physical activity, which for those age 6 to 17 is 60 minutes per day and for adults it is at least 150 minutes per week. This lack of physical activity leads to $117 billion in health care costs and, along with poor nutrition, is among the top 10 leading risk factors for death and disability in the United States.

These challenges disproportionately harm Americans with lower incomes; those living in rural communities; those who are from Black, Latino, or indigenous racial and ethnic backgrounds; and those over age 65. COVID-19 exacerbated health risks for tens of millions of Americans dealing with chronic diseases and shined a light on stark differences in access to healthy food, the ability to live a healthy life, and the ability to thrive.

These challenges to the physical health and well-being of millions of Americans take a toll on mental health, too. About half of all Americans will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder at some point during their lifetime. Healthy eating and physical activity are critically important for our bodies, minds, and spirits. The result of our collective failure to address these challenges head-on is lost lives and livelihoods and untold billions of dollars in health care spending that — if left unchecked — could have catastrophic implications for our health care system. There is both a moral imperative and widespread economic benefit in taking action.

Last fall, for the first time in a generation, the president declared a whole-of-government approach to drive the transformative change necessary to defeat hunger, advance healthy eating and physical activity, and improve health for all. The White House provided a blueprint outlining ambitious, achievable, and sustainable actions the federal government will take to fundamentally shift the country’s food, nutrition, and health policies.

Speaking as passionate advocates for these issues and proud co-chairs of the Council tasked with supporting this national strategy, we know the magnitude of the problems we face cannot be met by government alone. So, we’re calling for a whole-of-society approach — the commitment of all Americans to work together to create the innovative solutions and political will to address these challenges head-on.

As a Council, we are doing our part by building partnerships across sectors, including with our major men’s and women’s professional sports leagues, as they understand and can help communicate the importance of access to nutritious food and the connection between healthy eating, physical fitness, and overall well-being.

You might ask — what qualifies a chef and a WNBA player to kick-off a movement to empower our fellow Americans to lead healthier lifestyles? We’ve both seen firsthand the power of our own communities to create the change we seek — from sharing meals with neighbors after natural disasters to opening up about mental health to reduce harmful stigmas — and we’re eager to roll up our sleeves to help bring government, nonprofits, the private sector, and Americans of all walks of life together in pursuit of this common cause.

It has been a little over one year since the historic White House conference. We have been and will continue to do our part to move toward a future of abundant nourishing food and free from hunger and diet-related diseases and health disparities. The urgency of this time cannot be overstated. The measure of a great nation begins with the health, well-being, and safety of its citizens. We all have a stake in the outcome. There is no greater obligation or responsibility. Visit https://health.gov for more information on how to join the cause.

José Andrés is a chef, educator, and humanitarian. Elena Delle Donne is a two-time WNBA MVP and Olympic Gold Medalist. They co-chair of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition. The President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, & Nutrition is a federal advisory committee comprising of athletes, chefs, health professionals, anti-hunger advocates and academics that promote physical activity and healthy eating for Americans of all ages.

Tags

Chronic disease


Exercise


Food insecurity


Joe Biden


Nutrition


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