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Press Release

Food and Beverage Tax, Older Americans Act, Farm Bill Among Hot Topics at ADA's 2011 Public Policy Workshop

2011-02-03

Media Contacts: Ryan O'Malley, Allison MacMunn
800/877-1600, ext. 4769, 4802 media@eatright.org

CHICAGO – As food and nutrition issues continue to gain attention on Capitol Hill, the American Dietetic Association will gather its members at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C., February 6-8 for ADA's 2011 Public Policy Workshop. More than 500 of the nation's food and nutrition experts will gather to address hot topics that will affect legislation and policy in the upcoming year, including proposed food and beverage taxes, health-care reform, the new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Older Americans Act and the Farm Bill.

"As the first session of the 112th Congress begins, the American Dietetic Association remains committed to shaping the legislation and policy issues that directly affect the health of the American people," says registered dietitian and ADA President Judith C. Rodriguez.

"We are at a critical point in our country when it comes to nutrition. We must use the current momentum and ensure that our government takes the needed action to steer our country back towards health and wellness. ADA's members, as the food and nutrition experts, can and will play a critical role in the shaping and execution of all food and nutrition-related legislation," says Rodriguez.

ADA's Public Policy Workshop will feature debates and other sessions covering the most pressing issues facing Congress regarding health and nutrition. Media coverage is welcome at all sessions. Highlights include:

Food and Beverage Tax Debate: Point/Counterpoint (Sunday, February 6, 1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.)

State and local governments have passed or are considering legislation to tax sweetened beverages and other snack items to reduce their consumption. Research indicates a tax could steer U.S. adults toward a more healthful diet and help reduce long-term weight gain or insulin levels over time. Opponents say the government should not tax people's food dollars to solve budget problems and argue that the revenue does not always go back into health-related initiatives anyway. Who is right? Experts for and against beverage and food taxes will debate the issue, followed by questions from ADA members.

Federal and State Legislative Updates (Monday, February 7, 9:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.)

  • Older Americans Act Reauthorization. Originally passed in 1965 to address inadequate community social services for older persons, the Older Americans Act expires September 30. Nearly nine in 10 older adults have one or more of the most common chronic diseases — hypertension, diabetes and coronary heart disease — which are preventable or treatable in part by access to appropriate nutrition services. ADA is calling on Congress to ensure that it not only reauthorizes the OAA, but also includes amendments to the bill's nutrition components, including increasing access to nutrition screening, education and counseling, and ensuring qualified nutrition expertise is utilized at all levels in the coordination and planning of meal services.

  • Medical Foods Equity Act. This bill was first introduced in the Senate in 2009 and the House in 2010. It would mandate insurance coverage for foods necessary to the treatment of disorders related to inborn errors of metabolism. These conditions often warrant specially formulated medical foods and foods modified to be low in protein as well as particular dosages of some amino acids or vitamins. The cost of these treatments can be prohibitive for many people and insurance coverage currently varies by state and is often not adequate. ADA supports mandating national insurance coverage of these foods and foods modified to be low in protein for children and adults and recommends that any bill should include new federal minimum standards that would not pre-empt state standards that require a higher minimum standard; non-exemption for insurance plans governed by the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) or federal insurance programs from covering medical food costs; and coverage of pharmacological doses of vitamins and amino acids used specifically for the treatment of inborn errors of metabolism.

  • Farm Bill. Passed in 2008, this legislation governs the bulk of federal agriculture, nutrition  and related programs for the next five years. ADA strongly believes everyone's fundamental right to access to healthy food from a sustainable and safe food supply. ADA also believes that persons need the knowledge to make informed choices. ADA supports stronger, more effective food assistance programs; additional food and agricultural research; reforms in food safety and inspection; investment in public nutrition information and education; and the removal of farm program barriers to better diets.

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Interviews with all speakers, including members of Congress and ADA President Judith C. Rodriguez, can be arranged onsite or in advance by contacting Ryan O'Malley of ADA's Strategic Communications team at (312) 899-4769 or media@eatright.org.