Regulatory & Policy Updates: White House Nutrition Summit and Healthy Inches Forward

Regulatory & Policy Updates: White House Nutrition Summit and Healthy Inches Forward

June 8, 2022
Annette Maggi

By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Given the impact of federal policies and regulations on retail health and wellbeing, this article provides updates on two key initiatives.

White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health
With a goal of ending hunger and increasing healthy eating and physical activity in the U.S. by 2030 so that fewer Americans experience diet-related diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension, the Biden-Harris Administration has announced a September conference on hunger, nutrition and health. The following five pillars have been established as the focus of the conference:

  1. Improve food access and affordability.
  2. Integrate nutrition and health.
  3. Empower all consumers to make and have access to healthy choices.
  4. Support physical activity for all.
  5. Enhance nutrition and food security research.

While no specific September date has been set yet for the conference, there are a variety of ways retail dietitians and retailers can provide input to the event and these pillars. Listening sessions are scheduled yet for this week, but they may all be full. You can host a convening session and then provide the feedback capture to program leaders. Additionally, you can share your success stories. Click here for more information on these options.

RDBA did participate in a listening session and found that public health entities and ideas were significantly over-represented. There is an important opportunity for retailer to showcase all the positive work being done by companies along the food supply chain to impact consumer behavior and the drive towards healthier food purchase and consumption, reductions on hunger, and prevention of disease.

Update on Healthy Claim
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced additional research to be conducted on healthy icons on packages. Two quantitative surveys will be conducted. The first study will be a web-based panel of 2,000 adults who identify as primary food shoppers. The survey will focus on clarity, relevance, and appeal of a set of symbols. The second study will also be conducted online and will include 5,000 U.S. adults. Participants will view various symbols and package mock-ups to assess their understanding of the healthy symbol meaning as well as their perception of believability and trustworthiness of the icon.

While these studies suggest movement on the part of FDA towards a revised definition and use of healthy, this initiative has been in process for years. And without a clear definition of the nutrition criteria to be used for healthy moving forward, these studies seem somewhat irrelevant. The real question is whether it even matters to consumers at all any more.