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Adv Nutr. 2017 Sep 15;8(5):780-788. doi: 10.3945/an.116.013995. Print 2017 Sep.

Nutritional Sustainability: Aligning Priorities in Nutrition and Public Health with Agricultural Production.

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Agricultural Research Service, US Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, MD.
National Geographic Society, Washington, DC.
Economic Research Service, US Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, MD.
Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL.
Vegetable Seeds Division, Monsanto Company, St. Louis, MO.
Real Whirlwind, LLC St. Louis, MO.


Nutrition science-based dietary advice urges changes that may have a great impact on agricultural systems. For example, the 2016 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommends greatly increased fruit and vegetable consumption, but the present domestic production is insufficient to accommodate large-scale adoption of these guidelines. Increasing production to the extent needed to meet the DGA will necessitate changes in an already stressed agriculture and food system and will require nutrition and agriculture professionals to come together in open and collegial discourse. All involved need to understand the stress placed on the food system by increasing populations, changing diets, and changing environments, and recognize the major diet-based public health challenges. Furthermore, there is a need to understand the intricate interplay of the myriad parts of the food system and the vast amount of work necessary to make even small changes. New systems approaches are needed, especially at the research level, where nutrition, public health, agriculture, and the food industry work together to solve interconnected problems. Future well-being depends on a sustainable food system that continues to deliver optimal health with minimal impact on the environment.


agriculture; climate change; food policy; food security; sustainability

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