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Dietetic interns support nutrition
It is easy to see that health issues are an important topic in
politics, especially with the 2008 elections right around the corner.
These topics range from payment and insurance-related issues to stem
cell research. In one way or another, upcoming decisions about
legislation will affect our lives. Topics in nutrition are no
exception. Many changes regarding reimbursement for nutrition services,
as well as issues in food quality, are facing our government daily.
As a project, the MUSC dietetic interns chose to support a variety of
potential new topics appearing before Congress this year. Below are
issues summarized that will affect not only nutrition professionals,
but also all those who could potentially benefit from the care of a
In the United States Department of Agriculture’s Household Food
Security in the United States 2005 report, South Carolina was the
fourth leading state for food insecurity in 2003-2005, up from ranking
14th in 2000-2002. Many food insecure households turn to federal food
assistance programs or emergency food providers in their community when
they are unable to obtain enough food. The problem is that food banks
throughout our state are receiving fewer donations and more people are
coming in seek of help. The increased demand is outstripping supplies
and forcing many pantries and food banks to cut portions.
In an effort to improve the quality of foods sold in schools, the Child
Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act of 2007 (S.771)
will amend the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 to improve the health of
school-age children. The new act will further define “foods of minimal
nutritive value,” including snacks such as chips and candy, so that
these foods no longer will be sold in competition with school breakfast
and lunch. More students will be encouraged to consume two-thirds of
their daily nutritional needs from federally-funded and approved meals
as a result of this measure.
The Quality Cheese Act, S. 530, seeks to prohibit the use of the term
“natural” or “domestic” cheese on products that include ultra-filtered
milk, or milk protein concentrate (MPC). MPC is a cheap product used to
increase cheese yield. This product is not located on the FDA’s
“Generally Recognized As Safe” additive list, and is imported from
countries with less than ideal purity standards. Labeling cheese with
MPC or ultra-filtered milk “natural” or “domestic” is deceptive to the
S. 1161: Medicare Medical Nutrition Therapy Act of 2007 would amend
title XVIII of the Social Security Act to authorize the expansion of
Medicare coverage of medical nutrition therapy (MNT) services.
Currently, MNT services are only covered by Medicare for people with
diabetes or renal disease. As a result, beneficiaries diagnosed as
having any other chronic disease or risk factors are not eligible to
receive these essential nutrition services.
Through MNT provided by a registered dietitian, patients are given the
tools for optimal health to manage chronic disease, decrease health
care costs, and most importantly, improve their quality of life.
Millions of people in the United States who suffer from heart disease,
hypertension, cancer, obesity, and other nutrition-related diseases
should not be denied the countless benefits that MNT provides.
In Georgia, HR. 826 proposes the creation of a House Study Committee on
Trans Fat Alternatives for the Georgia Food Industry. Research has
shown a direct correlation between trans fat consumption and increased
risk for cardiovascular disease and other complications. The committee
would serve to enforce state regulations on the use of artificial trans
fats in restaurants and public schools. By regulating the usage of
trans fats, the health of Georgia citizens, especially its children in
the public school systems, would be promoted.
West Virginia House Bill 2244, “Promoting and Facilitating the
Breastfeeding of Infants,” recognizes that breast-feeding is a
worthwhile public health endeavor. This bill is designed to encourage
the promotion of breast feeding by excusing mothers from jury duty and
recognizing mother/infant friendly workplaces. The bill also outlines
proper conduct and rules for the practicing breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is a healthy and beneficial practice for mother and
child. Those interested in breastfeeding promotion should contact their
local representative and look for similar state bills.
For more information about these bills and other important legislation,
visit http://www.govtrack.us, and
write to your state representative to encourage support of these
Friday, May 2, 2008
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