Palo Alto Institute launches the National Institute of Nutrition Initiative

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The effort's aim is to explore ways to increase scientific funding for nutritional research given the rising cost of managing chronic diseases affected by diet.

Palo Alto Institute, a private think tank based in Silicon Valley, launched the National Institute of Nutrition Initiative, a grassroots effort to explore the merits of establishing a National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) within the United States Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). The launch event was held in Los Angeles on May 1, 2018. It was attended by various stakeholders from the nation’s food system.

The effort’s overall aim is to advocate for a significant increase in funding for nutritional research.

According to a report published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the total funding for nutritional research across all federal agencies was estimated to be only about $1.5 billion per year in 2009. To put that number into perspective, the JAMA report notes that the direct and indirect costs of managing diet-related chronic conditions in the United States is estimated to be about $1 trillion annually.

“Of the USDHHS’s $1.1 trillion budget in 2017, over $900 billion was spent on Medicare and Medicaid to pay the bills of a sick country,” said Dr. Yun. “Improving the nation’s health through better nutrition will pay dividends. The NIN could pay for itself over the long term through cost savings for the USDHHS. Growing the scientific foundation for evidence-based nutrition will promote a healthier society.”

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