Chapter 3 Everyone Has a Role in Supporting Healthy Eating Patterns

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Strategies for Action

To shift from current eating patterns to those that align with the Dietary Guidelines, collective action across all segments of society is needed. As previously described, these actions must involve a broad range of sectors, occur across a variety of settings, and address the needs of individuals, families, and communities. These actions include identifying and addressing successful approaches for change; improving knowledge of what constitutes healthy eating and physical activity patterns; enhancing access to adequate amounts of healthy, safe, and affordable food choices; and promoting change in social and cultural norms and values to embrace, support, and maintain healthy eating and physical activity behaviors.

The following examples of strategies exemplify the concerted action needed. It is important to note that no one strategy is likely to be the primary driver to improve individual and population lifestyle choices. Evidence demonstrates that multiple changes both within and across all levels of the Social-Ecological Model are needed to increase the effectiveness of interventions.

Sectors - Examples include:

  • Foster partnerships with food producers, suppliers, and retailers to increase access to foods that align with the Dietary Guidelines.
  • Promote the development and availability of food products that align with the Dietary Guidelines in food retail and food service establishments.
  • Identify and support policies and/or programs that promote healthy eating and physical activity patterns.
  • Encourage participation in physical activity programs offered in various settings.

Settings - Examples include:

  • Expand access to healthy, safe, and affordable food choices that align with the Dietary Guidelines and provide opportunities for engaging in physical activity.
  • Adopt organizational changes and practices, including those that increase the availability, accessibility, and consumption of foods that align with the Dietary Guidelines.
  • Provide nutrition assistance programs that support education and promotional activities tailored to the needs of the community.
  • Implement educational programs tailored to individuals and change organization practices, approaches, and/or policies to support healthy food choices where food decisions are being made, including at early care and education programs, schools, worksites, and other community settings.
  • Encourage opportunities in the workplace for regular physical activity through active commuting, activity breaks, and walking meetings.

Professionals Working With Individuals - Examples include:

  • Help individuals become more aware of the foods and beverages that make up their own or their family’s eating patterns and identify areas, such as modifying recipes and/or food selections, where they can make shifts to align with the Dietary Guidelines.
  • Teach skills like gardening, cooking, meal planning, and label reading that help support healthy eating patterns.
  • Suggest ways that individuals can model healthy eating behaviors for friends and family members.
  • Develop plans to help individuals limit screen time and time spent being sedentary and increase physical activity to meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

This is not an all-inclusive list; many strategies are available that can result in shifts to improve dietary intake and, ultimately, improve health. Professionals should help individuals understand that they can adapt their choices to create healthy eating patterns that encompass all foods and beverages, meet food group and nutrient needs, and stay within calorie limits.

Figure 3-3. Strategies To Align Settings With the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines

Americans make food and beverage choices in a variety of settings at home, at work, and at play. Aligning these settings with the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines will not only influence individual choices—it can also have broader population level impact when multiple sectors commit to make changes together.