Politics in Nutrition


What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “politics”? Not nutrition, right? Well think again! In the last 30 years, nutrition has become more and more prominent in politics due to the fact that America’s waist line has been getting bigger and bigger. Obesity rates in the United States are among the highest in the world with 64% of adults being overweight or obese. Researchers have predicted that if this trend continues 75% of adults in the United States will be overweight and 41% obese by 2015. Of course with the obesity and these alarming statistics, there is also an increase in chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In their increased involvement to decrease the obesity epidemic and chronic conditions among many Americans, the American Dietetic Association, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, has made their presence known in WashingtonDC by lobbying and speaking with the Senators and other government representatives with efforts to change the health of Americans.

As the National American Dietetic Association Spokesperson, I am proud to say that our Association’s hard work and efforts are shining through. With the recent Health Care Reform bill passed, Registered Dietitians (RD) will be more involved in preventative measures nationwide and are being recognized as the nutrition experts in helping the health recovery of America. Registered Dietitians will also be working at different levels: from community preventative programs to wellness corporations and policy making.

As you can clearly see, there is politics in nutrition!

Photo Credit: Manuel Villacorta

About The Author

Manuel Villacorta is a registered dietitian (RD) and certified specialist is sports dietetics (CSSD) with more than 16 years of experience. He was recently appointed national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, which identifies him as one of the United States’ leading weight loss and nutrition experts. Villacorta is the owner of San Francisco-based private practice MV Nutrition, the recipient of two consecutive “Best Bay Area Dietitian” awards (2009 and 2010) from the San Francisco Chronicle and Citysearch, and the creator of the Eating Free™ weight management program. Villacorta also developed MV Professional Nutrition (a software suite designed to assist RDs with their own private practices) and created www.eatingfree.com (an international, Internet-based weight loss and weight management program). Villacorta is a compelling, charismatic communicator—a public speaker, who is often praised for making audiences feel, heard, motivated, and engaged. His warm, approachable style, alongside his strong bilingual proficiency in both English and Spanish, have made him an in-demand health and nutrition expert on both local and national television and radio, and in articles in print publications and online. Villacorta worked closely with Dr. Nancy L. Snyderman, chief medical editor of NBC News, to provide expert nutrition advice on a number of topics for the BeWell network. He is often invited to speak at annual state and national conventions such as The Oregon Dietetic Association (where he was the keynote speaker), and The American Dietetic Association (where he spoke to other dietitian professionals about his successful private practice). Villacorta has acted as a media representative for food companies such as Foster Farms (one of the largest chicken producers on the West Coast) as well as for such California statewide health campaigns as the “California Latino 5-A-Day Program” and “Got Milk.” Prior to setting up his private practice, Villacorta worked as a public health dietitian for California Children Services and the Prenatal to Three Initiative, where he offered prenatal, infant, and childhood nutrition consulting. He has worked as a clinical dietitian for Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco and has held a faculty position with the School of Nursing at the University of San Francisco. Villacorta received his bachelor of science in nutrition and physiology metabolism from the University of California, Berkeley, and his master of science in nutrition and food science from San Jose State University. He has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards for his research, including the Outstanding Master of Science Degree Award from San Jose State University’s Department of Nutrition and Food Science.

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