At the 2017 American Medical Association (AMA) Annual Meeting, AMA passed two new resolutions that could have a huge impact on the way in which Americans are fed. AMA accepted that processed meats and excessive sugar consumption were the main factors in the ever growing obesity problem in the USA and have suggested plant based food and healthful food be made more readily available to people using food stamps and people in hospital. People who are obese are more likely to suffer from diabetes, heart disease and strokes.
AMA discussed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which provides assistance to low income families and is supposed to help them get the nutrition that they need. However, currently SNAP pays retailers to stock unhealthy foods which leads to low income families being unable to get the essential nutrients that they need. In turn this means that people using SNAP are more likely to develop health problems. Food access is a huge problem in the USA where some people live in food deserts and are unable to obtain nutritious and affordable food. Recently Russell Simmons spoke out about the need for a drastic change in the foods available with SNAP and it appears the AMA have listened. They’ve passed a resolution aimed at low income families gaining access to more healthful foods and changed their currently policy to include:
- Support the use of existing national nutritional guidelines for food banks and food pantries.
- Promote sustainable sourcing of healthier food options and the dissemination of user-friendly resources and education on healthier eating for food banks and food pantries.
The main item on the menu in AMA’s discussion of hospital food was reducing the number of Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSB) consumed in hospital. AMA voted in favour of adopting methods to try and reduce the number of SSBs consumed in the USA which included plain packaging and warning labels. AMA also set out the target of eliminating processed meat from hospital menu and including plant-based options on the menu. The AMA will ‘call on the United States hospitals to improve the health of patients, staff and visitors by providing a variety of healthful food, including plant-based meals, and meals that are low in fat, sodium and added sugar.’
The AMA’s resolutions show that important organisations in the USA are starting to recognise how big an impact food can have on health. As many people look to medical organisations as a source of advice, the elimination of processed meats in hospital and inclusion of plant-based dishes will hopefully set an example of the sorts of food people should be eating in their day to day lives.