By Hayley Currier
What’s the difference between food and nutrition?
The United States government is attempting to grapple with this question, as seen in the October 2008 renaming of the federal Food Stamp Program which is now SNAP—Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The government is no longer, at least in name, just supplementing the purchase of food for low-income residents. They are supposed to be supplementing nutrition, somewhat of a different story.
A new wave of research and projects are questioning if all calories are created equal—enough food is not the same as enough nutrients. Processed and sugar-laden food—the cheapest option for many on food stamps—may be causing more problems than they are solving. Organizations like the Center for Weight and Health through the University of California, Berkeley are advocating for changes that encourage people to eat healthier. Globally, more people are suffering from obesity and related illnesses than undernourishment. Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, speaks strongly about the need to improve unhealthy diets on an international scale and calls for measures such as taxing unhealthy food and regulating food advertising. Evidence is mounting that we shouldn’t just talk about filling bellies any more, but what we are filling them with.