PALO ALTO, Calif., June 28, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Dr. Joon Yun, who has donated millions to longevity science, today announced a new initiative to explore the merits of creating a National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The initiative is a culmination of an effort begun last year in collaboration with national leaders in food science.
Poor nutrition is now the leading cause of poor health in America. Direct and indirect costs of managing diet-related chronic conditions in the United States are estimated at over $1 trillion annually and growing. Yet the total funding for nutritional research across all federal agencies is estimated to be only $1.5 billion per year. To put that number into perspective, our nation spends about $5 billion per year on candy advertising, and about $50 billion per year on candy consumption.
"This research deficit should concern us," says Dr. Yun.
"The evidence base for making many specific dietary recommendations remains suboptimal and often contradictory," says Dr. Yun. "Robust, independent research to better understand the health effects of foods, and the translation of this evidence into dietary guidelines, is an urgent priority for the nation."
“The solution could start with creating a NIN under HHS,” says Dr. Yun.
"USDA is currently the primary source of federal funding for food research," says Dr. Yun. "Most of this funding is dedicated to improving agricultural and food science as applied to farming and food manufacturing, not nutritional science on the effect of food on humans. The creation of the NIN through an act of Congress, with the specific duty to advancing our understanding of nutrition health, would be highly complementary to the important current research supported by USDA."
Last year, Dr. Yun convened 200 food system stakeholders, policy makers, scientists and journalists at the San Francisco Exploratorium to discuss the state of nutrition research. Afterwards, he published a white paper making the case for a National Institute of Nutrition.
On May 1st this year, Dr. Yun hosted a follow-up gathering in California to discuss the proposal.
"Improving the nation's health through better nutrition will pay enormous dividends," says Dr. Yun. "As has been seen for other research at National Institutes of Health, the NIN could pay for itself through scientific advances, food and nutrition innovations, and cost savings for the HHS."
"The National Cancer Institute was launched through the National Cancer Act of 1937 by visionary leaders in Congress who recognized that the time had come to seriously address cancer at the national level," says Dr. Yun. "Now, we are at a similar tipping point for health and nutrition. Given the rise of diet-related chronic conditions affecting Americans, perhaps a more appropriate question to ask is: can we afford not to have a NIN?"