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Nutrition

The food industry in the United States is a major consumer of energy, with the majority of energy consumption related to food handling and storage. Many Americans experience food insecurity and depend on food banks, which must attempt to minimize food spoilage and expenses. Energy costs are a major expense for food banks, so reductions in energy use are critical to increasing the availability of food for the most vulnerable.

Over the past 30 years obesity rates have doubled for young children (6-11 year olds) and quadrupled for adolescents (12-19 years) to 18% and 21%, respectively, with the latest figures indicating more than a third of American children and adolescents are overweight or obese. These obese children are more likely to become obese adults and are at increased risk for developing health conditions normally seen in adulthood, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Accumulating evidence suggests that, due to possible synergistic interactions, the intake of combined bioactive dietary components may provide enhanced cancer preventive effects relative to the intake of an isolated pure compound. Thus, utilization of combinations of bioactive dietary components is an attractive strategy for cancer prevention. However, there is currently only relatively limited understanding of the interactions among different bioactive dietary components and their collective manifestations on bioactivity.

A key aspect of food markets are their vertical structures: products move along supply chains from manufacturers (or farmers) to wholesalers to retailers or food service operators to consumers. Interactions among firms in these chains give rise to a variety of economic issues that are no less important than those studied in horizontal interaction (i.e. firms competing for the same end consumer), yet previous work has tended to focus on the latter.

A recent study has shown that the annual cost of foodborne illness in the Unites States is approximately $152 billion. This is a result of the estimated 76 million food-related illnesses which occur annually including approximately 5,000 deaths and 325,000 hospitalizations. Coast-to-coast and international distribution by megaprocessing plants puts potential outbreaks on a national and international scale. Therefore, monitoring of pathogen counts on processing surfaces is critical in maintaining low or zero counts in food products.

An estimated 437,000 incidences of produce-related foodborne illnesses occur each year in Massachusetts alone. In addition to morbidity and mortality, the estimated cost as a result of the illnesses is $903 million.

The School Meals Accountability and Responsibility Training Tools (SMARTTs) project was developed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA DESE) in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Extension Nutrition Education Program (NEP) and Labor Management Workplace Education Program (LMWEP) with funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to improve and increase:

Increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables in young children and reducing childhood obesity is a key national nutrition goal. This project will examine use of  a sensory-affective, comprehensive approach to promote early childhood consumption of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. The direct correlation between fruit and vegetable consumption and lowering of obesity is yet to be established in this life-stage. However, the prevalence of obesity has more than doubled among children ages two to five (5.0% to 12.4%).

The UMass Extension SNAP-Ed program is part of a national nutrition education effort funded through the US Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Assistance Program (SNAP). The overarching goal of SNAP-Ed is to provide nutrition education programs and activities that help adults and youth eligible for SNAP to establish healthy eating habits and physically active lifestyles.

Food insecurity, or not having access at all times to enough food for an active and healthy lifestyle, has been linked to a number of poor health outcomes, including low micronutrient intake, poor academic scores in children and adolescents, and overweight and obesity in adults. The federally-funded Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) program provides nutrition education to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients and eligibles and other low-income families.

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