Healthy Food America acts on science to drive change in policy and industry practice so that all people can live in places where nutritious food is easy to obtain and exposure to unhealthy products is limited. Chronic diseases caused by poor nutrition from unhealthy foods and beverages are the major causes of death and poor health in the U.S., including obesity, diabetes, heart and liver disease, and tooth decay. Communities of color and low-income families are hardest hit by these preventable conditions. Poor nutrition is the largest contributor to all these diseases, driven by the pervasive presence and relentless marketing of junk food and beverages, especially to kids and the most vulnerable. We are coordinating with other advocates to energize a national movement to roll back added sugars in food and beverages to healthful levels.
What We Do
Though obesity and diabetes epidemics have raged for years, current public policy and industry responses have had limited impact. The evidence that added sugars play a key role in fueling the epidemics continues to grow stronger and calls out for bold new approaches to reverse the trend of adding sugars to the products on our shelves. HFA works to identify the most promising such strategies and supports policymakers and advocates at the federal, state, and local levels to get them adopted. Our priorities for action are:
Changing policy and practice. HFA is focused on developing and implementing two key initiatives in areas we believe have the right combination of impact and public support:
- Taxes on sugary drinks. Taxing sodas and other sugary drinks – just like tobacco – can raise revenue to improve lives, reduce the appeal of harmful beverages and raise awareness of the health risks they impose, while sending a message to industry to stop pushing products that harm health. HFA offers technical support to efforts across the country to adopt taxes on sugary drinks.
- Healthy food access. It's hard for many people in the US to afford healthy food or find it easily in their neighborhoods. Incentivization programs, which stretch people's food buying dollars in a bigger way for healthy food and drink purchases, make it easier for more people to offer healthy options to their families and can drive up demand for these items at stores.
Raising awareness and driving change. HFA is committed to educating the public and policymakers about sugar and health and to alerting consumers about added sugars in the products marketed to them. We deliver these messages through the news media and paid advertising, foster conversation about sugar and health on social media, and encourage discussion among policy makers. As a result of our efforts and those of our partners, Americans will come to demand food that is healthy and free of excessive sugar, prompting manufacturers to respond with better food and less promotion of unhealthy products, and spurring policymakers to take action to reduce excessive consumption.
Translating research and evaluating progress. Emerging nutrition and health research can be difficult to interpret, allowing opponents of change to sow confusion. HFA tracks and translates research for the public and policymakers, and on occasion performs research to fill gaps in understanding and highlight key issues. We provide support to rigorous evaluation of policy actions to identify those worthy of taking to scale.
Convening key players. The growing numbers of people and organizations joining the movement to roll back sugar need a place to connect and a way to coordinate their activities. HFA convenes advocates, policymakers and experts to plan and collaborate.
Supporting state and local policy efforts. HFA provides technical assistance to advocates and decision makers in states and localities that are developing policies to curb excessive sugar.