White House’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, Health Includes Supporting Physical Activity

The Biden Administration released a 44-page report on Sept. 28 detailing a plan to end hunger and increase healthy eating and physical activity by 2030.

The plan was released as part of the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health, which about 500 people attended live and 1,000 people attending virtually to participate in panels and sessions on the topic.

The plan has $8 billion in public-private funding. Some of the recommendations could be implemented through Executive Orders by the president, but many elementswill need Congressional approval, according to the Washington Post.

The administration’s five-pillar plan to reduce the number of Americans with diet-related diseases and reduce health disparities includes supporting physical activity by ensuring everyone has a safe place to be active. However, this pillar of the plan mostly addresses making more green space available for people to exercise and has just a few recommendations related to exercise at fitness facilities, mostly focused on government-operated fitness facilities and corporate facilities.

Less than half of the country lives within a half mile of a park, according to the White House. Because people with access to parks and trails are more physically active than those who don’t have easy access to these green environments, the administration plans to increase the number of parks accessible to Americans.

IHRSA, a trade association for health club operators, praised the plan as a good start.

“As leaders from across the country stand up today to ‘end hunger and increase healthy eating and physical activity by 2030,’ our industry continues our commitment to making the world a healthier place through advocacy and access to fitness for everyone,” IHRSA CEO Liz Clark said in a statement from IHRSA. “It is well established that exercise is its own form of medicine, and along with nutrition and other priorities, must be part of any conversation that seeks to make meaningful changes. We commend this first step and look forward to continuing the conversation with the administration, impactful stakeholders, and members of both parties in Congress about the critical role the fitness industry can play in improving Americans’ physical and mental health.”

The Biden administration plans to fund regular updates to and promotion of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, according to the full report.

It will expand the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention’s State Physical Activity and Nutrition Program to all states and territories. In particular, the administration will seek funding to expand the Active People, Healthy Nation initiative from 16 states to all states. That initiative helps to connect pedestrian, bicycle or transit opportunities to everyday destinations.

The report included calls for action, including that state, local and territorial governments should improve accessibility at parks and fitness facilities for people with disabilities to exercise, and that businesses owners should encourage employees to exercise more in part by providing access to places to exercise. Another recommendation was for the private sector, non-profits and governments to partner on opening parks, sports facilities and fields to schools.

The report also called for state, local and territory governments to help promote the CDC’s Active People, Healthy Nation and improve the walkability of cities, and it suggested states should offer free passes for children or families to state parks. The recommendations also included having more rigorous PE requirements in schools.

The other pillars revolve around food and nutrition.

One seeks to improve access to food and its affordability, including access in schools. Another involves integrating nutrition and health, partly by testing having medically tailored meals covered by Medicare and testing nutrition education and other nutrition supports through Medicaid while also expanding access to nutrition and obesity counseling for people

Another pillar would help Americans better discern healthy choices by requiring front-of-package labeling for food, updating the criteria for companies to claim a food is “healthy” on its packaging, expanding incentives for fruits and vegetables in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The fifth pillar would increase the research around nutrition and food security.

View the full report here.