Federal research agencies need to do a better job of coordinating studies into how to address Americans’ nutrition deficiencies, which have been highlighted by the COVID-19 crisis, according to a study by leading nutrition experts. 

More research funding also is needed, according to the study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The co-authors include former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and David Kessler, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, as well as experts at Georgetown, Harvard and Tufts universities, and Catherine Woteki, who oversaw USDA research programs during the Obama administration. 

“Greater harmonization and expansion of federal investment in nutrition science, not a siloing or rearrangement of existing investments, has tremendous potential to generate new discoveries to improve and sustain the health of all Americans,” the study says. 

The report notes that more than 10 federal departments and agencies currently fund various aspects of nutritional research, “yet with relatively flat investments over several decades. Coordination also remains suboptimal, documented by multiple governmental reports over 50 years.”

The study makes two key recommendations: Establishing new authority for cross-governmental coordination of nutrition research, and expanding and better coordinating the nutrition studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health. 

The coronavirus pandemic has “laid bare” many of the nation’s nutrition problems, “including food insecurity, major diet-related comorbidities for poor outcomes from COVID-19 such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, and insufficient surveillance on and coordination of our food system,” the study says. 

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