This issue provides a smorgasbord of papers that may be helpful in getting all of us back to work after the Coronavirus hiatus.
We have two wonderful lead stories this month and an excellent supporting cast as well. The cover story on properties of ultra-processed foods that can drive excess intake by Barbara J Rolls, PhD. and her colleagues Paige Mae Cunningham, B.S. and Hanim Ecem Diktas, M.S. provides insights about what may make it easy to overindulge in processed foods, along with a look at some recent research on the topic. They see caloric density as one of the issues that is sometimes overlooked, and that means it is not the processing itself but rather what happens to caloric density and volume of food consumed that is the culprit in accounting for what seem to be the negative effects of highly processed foods on health. These findings would seem to offer a way to preserve the good aspects of processing like hygiene, shelf stability etc. while eliminating the negatives rather than painting all those foods with a broad brush as bad. There is much food for thought here from one of our nation’s most productive and insightful physiological psychologists and her team. The article is well worth reading.
Our second lead article couldn’t be more timely. It is by our editorial board member lawyer and nutritionist Sheila Fleischhacker, PhD, JD, and her team members Lindsey Turner PhD, Jerold R Mande, MPH on the USDA Summer Meals Program: What’s Hot? The legislation and regulations governing the USDA’s summer meals program has changed a lot in the past few years and it now faces the challenges imposed by the coronavirus epidemic of the late winter and spring on family food budgets, particularly for the poorest families. Sheila does a good job of laying out the new provisions of the law and also some of the upsides of the new regulations with respect to public health related provisions that may further enhance the food program’s benefits for children. They also discuss initial SMP implications of two relevant policy provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (P.L. 116-127), signed into law on March 18, 2020. Ensuring access to summer meals among high risk students can provide: 1) supplemental nutrition assistance to families that help address food insecurity during the summer months when there are no school meals; 2) healthy meals in structured settings that might help reduce obesity risk; and, 3) support to other programs that offer other benefits such as education, physical activity, or job training. Those of you involved in administering or working with this program will find the article particularly helpful. And there is a CE test accompanying the article for those who need CE credits at the time when so many other ways of getting them have gone by the boards.
The next section is a new one and timely indeed as it deals with that dangerous COVID-19 virus and its implications for food safety risk management. I made an urgent request to colleagues to fill us in on that . And thanks to three experts on the topic, Dr Peter Pressman, Naidu Satyanarayan and Roger Clemens (our Editorial Board member), we have an excellent primer on the food safety implications of the virus. Sheila Fleischhacker PhD, JD of our editorial board, who holds not only a doctorate in nutrition but a law degree, follows legislation closely, and is probably one of the few of us who has actually read much of the CARES act for Coronavirus relief efforts. She has sketched out for us what some of these are in her contribution called US Coronavirus Relief Package: Update on Food and Nutrition Provisions.
Winding up the issue, we continue to explore the issues that are involved in sustainable nutrition and what dietitians can do to help on this important topic in a thought-provoking piece by a group of three nutritionists and dietitians who certainly know what they are talking about. Take a look at Keys to Success in Forging Global Leadership in Sustainable Nutrition by Eileen Kennedy, D.SC, RD, Susan Finn, PhD, RD, FADA and Katie Brown, Ed.D, RDN. They describe some steps dietitians can, and are, taking to enhance sustainability here at home and abroad. Susan Finn PhD RD is one of the distinguished past presidents of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics who did a great deal while she served to broaden the role of the dietitian to deal with issues such as ensuring the nutrition of older Americans and focusing on world hunger problems. Eileen Kennedy DSc,RD, a member of our editorial board here at Nutrition Today , has extensive experience in developing countries as well as here at home where she served for many years in the USDA’s Center for Policy and Promotion. And Dr Katie Brown provides some interesting experience from the perspective of industry.
Well, it will be good to be able to be out an about at least a little again. But when you’ve got a minute of leisure, take a look at these interesting pieces. You’ll enjoy them all.
Johanna Dwyer DSc,RD
Editor, Nutrition Today