Photo courtesy of USDA.govFrom staff reports
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, says that his agency is concerned about nutrition security for consumers.
He describes nutrition security as being continuous access to food that is healthy and safe and being affordable. Nutrition security is an issue that really surfaced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He says nutrition security concerns grew during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We learned from this pandemic, the linkage between nutrition security and health. It was surprising to me, and maybe it was surprising to some of you, that two-thirds of the COVID-related hospitalizations that occurred, and are occurring, have been related to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure; these are all diet-related conditions. Stated another way, poor nutrition is connected to the leading cause of illnesses that take over 600,000 lives every year.”
Vilsack adds that there is an economic cost to poor nutrition as well. “Just take diabetes: 147 billion dollars. That’s roughly equivalent to the entire budget of the Department of Agriculture on just one diet-related disease. And don’t take into consideration the loss of productivity, losing quality of life connected to diet-related diseases. So COVID was a wake-up call.”
USDA is working to help with nutrition security by improving the Women Infants and Children’s plan by expanding education and including changes that would make more people qualified and increase program participation. By doing this, Vilsack believes more people with will have more exposure to fruits and vegetables that they may not have known about.