For this year’s National Nutrition Month® theme, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and its members are encouraging people to “Put Your Best Fork Forward” – a concept meant to signify that each bite counts. It’s a reminder that each small shift toward better eating habits makes an impactful difference in the long run – ultimately promoting lifelong healthy eating patterns.

One of the hallmarks of Put Your Best Fork Forward is increasing variety in the diet by not only getting the recommended amount of foods in each food group but also making sure to incorporate a wide array of foods and beverages within those groups. As the Academy notes in a toolkit, variety helps ensure you’re getting all the nutrients needed to stay healthy. So, instead of just recommending people consume more fruits and vegetables, reminding them to select different varieties like dark leafy greens and red and yellow peppers is also important. Yogurt, too, can help bring more variety to the dairy group.

Research indicates that there are additional benefits to eating a more varied diet. In one analysis of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data, a wide-ranging diet of healthful food was inversely associated with adiposity indicators in men and women. Among women, the odds of obesity of those with the most varied diet of healthful foods were 31-44% lower than those with the least varied diet. Among men, the odds of obesity were nearly 50% lower when comparing those with the most varied diet to those with the least.1 The authors concluded that increasing variety in some food categories may be an effective strategy for weight control. A second study revealed that a greater mix of healthful food was associated with lower odds of metabolic syndrome.2

The Academy stresses the importance of proactively identifying ways to vary meals – experimenting with different vegetables, switching to whole grain breads and cereals, substituting for plantbased proteins, sweetening plain low-fat yogurt with healthier toppings, among other suggestions.3

Putting Your Best Fork Forward should mean eating nutrient-rich and delicious foods. Together we can take a bite in the right direction.


Miguel Freitas, PhD
Vice President of Scientific Affairs, The Dannon Company

1 Vadiveloo, M., Dixon, L., Mijanovich, T., Elbel, B. and Parekh, N. (2014). Dietary Variety Is Inversely Associated with Body Adiposity among US Adults Using a Novel Food Diversity Index. Journal of Nutrition, 145(3), pp.555-563.

2 Vadiveloo M, Parkeh N, Mattei J. Greater Healthful Food Variety as Measured by the US Healthy Food Diversity Index Is Associated with Lower Odds of Metabolic Syndrome and its Components in US Adults. Journal of Nutrition. 2014;145(3):564-571. doi:10.3945/jn.114.199125.

3 National Nutrition Month. wwweatrightorg. 2017. Available at: http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/resources/national-nutrition-month/nationalnutrition- month. Accessed March 8, 2017.

FDA Obtaining Input on “Healthy” Definition

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently held a public meeting and heard oral comments on the definition of the term “healthy” for product labeling, but there is still opportunity to submit written comments through April 26, 2017. The FDA is currently considering a revised definition of “healthy” as a nutrient content claim following a citizen petition requesting that the definition be more consistent with current federal dietary guidance, particularly with respect to total fat intake and the inclusion of whole foods and dietary patterns rather than specific nutrients. In September, 2016, the FDA notified the industry that it would exercise enforcement discretion on the use of “healthy” on foods that do not meet the regulatory definition of “low fat” if they contain primarily mono- and polyunsaturated fats and contain at least 10 percent of the Daily Value (DV) of potassium or vitamin D.

National Conference to Examine New Administration Food Policy

The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is holding its 40th annual National Food Policy Conference in Washington DC, April 11 to 12, 2017. This year’s conference will focus on the new administration and its position on key food policy issues. It will also take an in-depth look at the causes and consequences of hunger in America, new technologies in food, and business models that will help to transform the food system. Panel discussions will cover a range of food policy topics including infant nutrition and public policy, food and immigration and consolidation in the food industry, among others.

National Minority Health Month Focuses on Health Equity

April is National Minority Health Month and this year’s theme is “Bridging Health Equity Across Communities.” This April, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH) will join with partners such as Let’s Move! And Million Hearts to raise awareness for efforts across a variety of sectors to address the social, economic and environmental factors that impact one’s health. National Minority Health Month was created over 100 years ago to promote health equality and eliminate health disparities. Check OMH’s website for tools and resources for celebrating National Minority Health Month in your community

National CACFP Week Raises Awareness for Child and Adult Food Programs

This week is National Child and Adult Care Food Program week. The National Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is working to raise awareness for how the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Child and Adult Food Care program combats hunger and brings healthy foods to the tables of adults in day care and children in child care homes and centers, and afterschool and summer feeding programs.

In addition to providing educational materials and toolkits, CACFP is encouraging the community to answer the question “How do you CACFP snack?” by posting to social media, tagging @NationalCACFP and using the hashtag #ncasupersnack.