Poor Diets Threaten National Security

A recent report says that our nutritional status in the U.S. is so poor it even threatens our national security. Learn more about the power of healthy eating in this research update.

Good nutrition is a crucial part of engaging in a healthy lifestyle in order to get the required amounts of vitamins and minerals in the diet each day to keep your body functioning well. A healthy, well-balanced diet includes the consumption of whole plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, pulses, and whole grains. Studies have shown that the focus on proper nutrition by increasing intake of whole foods can decrease the risks for heart disease, cancers, and other health-related risks, and improves overall quality of life. Unfortunately, the importance of nutrition is underestimated. As a result, poor nutrition is the leading cause of illness in the US, which is a growing burden on the country, one that is not only detrimental to the economy and the health of so many individuals, but one that has worsened to the point of becoming a threat to national security, according to a recent report by a group of experts who have formed the Federal Nutrition Research Advisory Group.

Unhealthy diets are responsible for more than half a million deaths each year, according to a report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (July 2020). About 46% of adults and 56% of children have an overall poor-quality diet, according to the report. The correlation between poor nutrition and health-related risks has been associated with obesity, heart disease, and various cancers. As a result, US healthcare spending has nearly tripled from 1979 to 2018, from 6.9% to 17.7%. Those who are most vulnerable to health-related disparities include minority groups, rural areas, and low-income communities who get caught in a cycle of lower academic achievement in school, low productivity at work, increased disease risk, out of pocket healthcare costs, and poverty for many. Diet related illnesses are now impacting the readiness of the US military and the budgets of the US Department of Defense and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. According to a 2018 report, over 70% of people aged 17 to 24 do not qualify for military service, with obesity being the leading disqualifier

Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in the overall quality of life, and it should be equally accessible to every individual. Therefore, an enhanced focus on nutrition research and an increased budget for nutrition-related policies should be prioritized to improve health equity, affordable resources, and treatment and prevention methods.

Learn more about fueling your life with good nutrition to reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Make sure to fill your diet with healthy whole foods, including healthy protein foods, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. And reduce the intake of highly processed foods, such as sugary beverages, refined snack foods like chips and cookies, and fast foods, such as fries and burgers.

Learn about the Dietary Guidelines for Americans here.
Check out how you eat more whole grains here.
Fuel your diet with healthy plant proteins here.
Learn about stealth health eating strategies here.

For more recent research updates on healthy eating, check out:

What’s Best, a Vegan or Mediterranean Diet?
Plant-Based Meat Alternatives are Healthy Swaps
Eat More Plant Proteins for Longevity

Image: Healthy seasonal produce at a farmers market in New Orleans.

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