ADA releases updated position paper on nutrition assistance programs for children

May 3, 2010, American Dietetic Association

The American Dietetic Association has published an updated position paper on nutrition assistance programs for children that reviews existing programs and their value, discusses barriers to participation and encourages more research to evaluate the programs' long-term effectiveness in helping children get and stay healthy.

ADA's updated position paper, published in the May issue of the , represents the Association's official stance on child and adolescent nutrition assistance programs:

It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that and adolescents should have access to an adequate supply of healthy and safe foods that promote optimal physical, cognitive and social growth and development. Nutrition assistance programs, such as food assistance and meal service programs and initiatives, play a vital role in meeting this critical need.

ADA's position and accompanying paper were written by Jamie Stang, PhD, MPH, RD, LN, associate professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota; and Cynthia Taft Bayerl, MS, RD, LDN, nutrition coordinator at the Nutrition Physical Activity and Obesity Program, Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

According to ADA's position paper, nutrition assistance programs like School Breakfast, School Lunch, summer programs and WIC are vital to the health and well-being of America's children and adolescents. Approximately one in six infants, children and adolescents live in homes that experience limited food security, and half of all children participate in at least one nutrition assistance program during their first five years of life, according to the authors. "Without these programs, millions of infants, children and adolescents in the U.S. may not reach their full developmental potential."

ADA encourages nutrition assistance programs to be made available to all eligible children and adolescents. "Current participation in many programs is below 100 percent due to barriers which may include lengthy, complicated application procedures, fear of losing other financial assistance benefits, lack of incentives for organizations to offer such programs and lack of access to reliable transportation required to participate in programs and services," according to the authors. "Incentives for schools, community agencies, religious organizations and other venues to provide summer meal programs and offer transportation to the programs should be implemented."

ADA's position paper notes that many nutrition assistance programs face regular risk of inadequate or discontinued funding. "Advocacy efforts are needed to ensure that all nutrition assistance programs are fully funded and reach all infants, children and adolescents who are eligible to participate," according to the authors. They add that registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered are "uniquely qualified to develop, implement and evaluate nutrition assistance programs."

ADA's position also encourages placing more emphasis on funding evaluation studies of nutrition assistance programs, since reliable data on the impact of nutrition assistance programs are limited. Research should cover how programs affect the mental and physical health of children and adolescents, the ability of youth to succeed in academic settings, improvements in nutrition status and growth, and the financial implications for families of children and adolescents, according to the authors. "Formal surveillance systems should be implemented to ensure that long-term impact of nutrition assistance programs can be measured."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.