Food Matters: ADA puts focus on nutrition

December 30, 2011 

It's official -- the American Dietetic Association (ADA), the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, will change its name to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The name change takes effect in January.

Google the acronym "ADA" and you will find American Dietetic Association is a distant fourth in line after "Americans with Disabilities Act," "American Dental Association" and "America Diabetes Association." Hopefully, now the association will be able to maintain its own unique identity.

According to ADA President Sylvia Escott-Stump,"ADA has been in existence since 1917, after working to feed the troops healthfully during World War I. Protecting the public's health is the highest priority of ADA and our members, and our new name complements our focus: the nutritional well-being of the American public.

"By adding nutrition to our name, we communicate our capacity for translating nutrition science into healthier lifestyles for everyone. Keeping dietetics supports our history as a food and science-based profession. Thus, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics quickly and accurately communicates our identity--who we are and what we do," Escott-Stump said.

Earlier this year ADA conducted a survey to evaluate people's attitudes about nutrition and physical activity and found a variety of interesting statistics. One interesting finding was that today 46 percent of those interviewed actively seek information about nutrition and healthy eating compared to only 19 percent in 2000.

The following are some highlights from this past year that you might have missed:

1. In the spring, the U.S. FDA released news of proposed regulations for fast service restaurants and casual dining establishments as well as a proposed companion rule that will apply to items sold in vending machines. Throughout 2011, ADA has highlighted some of the healthier fast food and casual dining options in their Food on the Run and Diet Friendly Dining reviews.

2. Many restaurants update their menus this year to provide patrons with healthier options. The new Kids Live Well campaign provides families with healthier choices when eating away from home to help kids maintain a healthy weight.

3. The new food icon, MyPlate was unveiled and replaces the often times confusing MyPyramid image as a visual cue and teaching tool. The intent of the new icon is to translate the main tips of the newly updated 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans into a visual that helps Americans build healthy diets, one meal at a time.

4. Last year's passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 caused some school districts to remove flavored milks from their cafeterias. Unfortunately, research found that when flavored milk was removed from elementary schools there was a 35 percent drop in milk consumption. As part of the implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, changes in nutrition requirements for fluid milk served at school were necessary by the start of this school year. More information can be found at the ADA website EatRight.org.

Chuck Newcomb, MS, RD, CDE is a consulting Registered Dietitian currently providing medical nutrition therapy services for Memorial Hospital Los Banos. He has a Masters of Science in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. E-mail questions to the Attention of ChuckRD at: MHALosBanos@SutterHealth.org or on his website MySmartRD.com.

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