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Upcoming White House Health Conference Surely To Leave Us Hungry For Good Policy

The Daily Tonic is a two to five minute read sharing science backed health news and tips, all while getting you to crack a smile or even lol on occasion.

Given the White House track record regarding nutrition and health policy, it is understandable if you, too, are skeptical that a government conference will be the catalyst we need to start fixing our broken food system. So far, government officials have been unable to lower prescription drug prices or make health insurance more accessible. 

Rising obesity rates and increases in diabetes and heart disease are all trends directly or indirectly tied back to agricultural policies that the government has failed to reverse. Big Food, Big Soda, Big Pharma, and Big Ag have all used their very deep pockets to ensure that politicians don’t change things too much. After all, the status quo is making some influential people a lot of money, even if that money comes at the expense of our health. 

But maybe this conference will be the start of something different. Let’s give the White House the benefit of the doubt here and dive a little deeper into what the Biden administration has in mind as we near this historic event later this month. 

The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health will be held on September 28, 2022, and will be the first conference of its kind since President Nixon had one in 1969 (another great track record). That Nixon-era conference played a significant role in molding the food policy agenda for the past 50 years, leading to food stamps and child nutrition assistance programs. 

The goal of President Biden’s conference will be to find policy solutions to end hunger, improve nutrition and physical activity, and reduce diet-related diseases. All great goals. As some officials have correctly pointed out, it is an “intolerable crisis” that the wealthiest nation in the world has children going to bed hungry. 

A Daily Tonic ‘usual suspect’ from Tufts University is leading the White House hunger conference

It is also expected that the conference will have bipartisan support. Finally, something both sides can agree on. This conference makes you hopeful that there might be a good chance for progress here if the red and blue teams finally agree on something.

But unfortunately, here is where the Biden administration loses a lot of my trust and good faith when it comes to this conference. Dariush Mozaffarian was quoted in this article as someone working closely with the formation of the 2022 conference. Mozaffarian is also a professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine.

We covered this on the Daily Tonic before, but in case you need a reminder, Tufts University is the same institution that came out with the Tufts Food Compass earlier this year. The compass is a nutrient profiling system ranked foods based on their healthfulness using a score of 0-100. According to the Tufts Food Compass, whole foods like eggs and beef steak scored 61 and 33, while processed food products like Cheerios and Raisin Bran scored 72 and 95. 

That’s right. Somehow, someway, the researchers at Tufts came up with a food scoring system that claims that brand-name breakfast cereals are significantly healthier than high protein, nutrient-dense whole foods. 

The key takeaway? If the same people that came up with the Tufts Food Compass are involved in the White House’s food conference, the chances for real, meaningful change are pretty slim. This basically means that Big Food companies like General Mills and Kellogg’s are putting this conference together. 

If this is the case, the results we can expect from the conference are probably just more recommendations to cut out animal products and replace them with whole grains or other processed junk that can make Big Food more money.

Hopefully, we are wrong, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

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