Nutrition Policies and Interventions to Improve Diet and Health

Cardiometabolic diseases and cancer are some of the leading causes of death in the United States. Although it is well known that unhealthy diets are associated with poor cardiovascular and cancer outcomes, the most effective and cost-effective strategies to improve diet and reduce health burdens in the US remain uncertain.

While individual-level approaches can be effective for some people, the overall benefits to the US population may be modest. In contrast, population-level strategies can achieve a broader and more sustained impact.

Our research has identified 8 policy and intervention strategies that can improve diet and reduce the burden of cancer and cardiovascular outcomes on a population level. 

  • Nationwide government-mandated 10% (alternate 20-30%) subsidy for fruits, vegetables, and whole grains across all establishments and including school/after-school programs.
  • Nationwide government-mandated excise tax for sugar sweetened beverages across all establishments (retail, large cafeteria vendors, restaurants, quick-serve chain restaurants)
  • Subsidy for fruits, vegetables, and other healthy food
  • Restricting or disincentivizing unhealthy products
  • Institute quality standards to reformulate all packaged and ready-to-eat foods/beverages to reduce sodium and/or added sugar content across all establishments.
  • Requirement that all food establishments with >20 outlets nationwide list calories in each regularly sold item on their menu board or menu
  • Nationwide government-mandated declaration of added sugars on the Nutrition Facts Panel for all packaged foods/beverages
  • Nationwide government-mandated warning label on processed meats accompanied by nationwide public health mass-media campaign to warn consumers of the carcinogenic nature of processed meats
  • Improving the nutrition quality standards in school meals and snacks
  • Nutrition quality standards for meals and snacks sold in government workplaces
  • Setting healthier default beverage or side options in restaurants
  • Setting maximum portion sizes for unhealthy products (such as SSB)
  • Campaign to promote the consumption of healthy food and discourage the consumption of unhealthy food
  • Restriction or quality standards on food marketing to children
  • Subsidy of fruits, vegetables, and healthy food for Medicare and/or Medicaid participants
  • Including nutrition questions for health professional licensing exams (such as the US Medical Licensing Exam)