Date: Nov 06 2007Policy Number: 200712
Key Words: Climate Change, Food Security, Obesity, Occupational Health And Safety, Food
In the United States, obesity and diet-related chronic disease rates are escalating, while the public’s health is further threatened by rising antibiotic resistance; chemicals and pathogens contaminating our food, air, soil and water; depletion of natural resources; and climate change. These threats have enormous human, social, and economic costs that are growing, cumulative, and unequally distributed. These issues are all related to food—what we eat and how it is produced. The US industrial food system provides plentiful, relatively inexpensive food, but much of it is unhealthy, and the system is not sustainable. Although most US food consumption occurs within this industrial system, healthier and more sustainable alternatives are increasingly available.
The American Public Health Association (APHA) has long been active on food system issues, as is shown by the large body of relevant policy. Moving toward a healthier and more sustainable food system will involve tackling longstanding challenges and addressing new and evolving demands. This position paper reviews the scientific basis for understanding the US food system and sustainability, identifies specific issues of concern, discusses key related policies and action opportunities, and outlines APHA goals. By uniting multiple food system themes in a single statement, it aims to provide clarity, new emphases, and solid direction, encouraging the APHA to increase its activities and leadership to promote a more sustainable, healthier, and more equitable food system.