Wellness and Nutrition

Nutrition and Climate Change

Key Context

While their causal relationship is not frequently discussed, malnutrition, climate change, and poverty are all connected at the global level:

  • The world population is expected to exceed 10 billion people by 2050.
  • Currently, one-sixth of American adults have one or more chronic diet-related disease and almost 40 percent of American adults are obese.
  • More than 820 million people worldwide have insufficient food.
  • Diet-related conditions cost an estimated $2 trillion in direct health care costs and lost economic productivity, globally.
  • Current food production is responsible for up to 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • More than 40 percent of global land is used for agriculture.


Questions you can ask candidates about the intersection of Nutrition and Climate Change include:

  1. What specific measures will you take to ensure our future population has access to a diet that is both healthy and environmentally sustainable?
  2. What role do you see the United States taking internationally to create a healthier and more sustainable food system?
  3. How do you get politicians and the public to buy into dietary shifts away from foods harmful to themselves and the planet?
Intersection of sustainability and food security

Key Context

Many Americans are struggling with conditions related to poor diet as a result of their inability to afford the food their bodies need. Sustainably produced food is more expensive than the foods that have unfortunately become staples of the American diet.

  • Twelve percent of Americans are food insecure.
  • Nine percent of Americans are SNAP recipients.
  • About 45 percent of SNAP clients have limited their food consumption, usually by skipping meals, to make it through the month.
  • An environmentally sustainable basket of food costs 40 percent more than the typical basket that many Americans already struggle to afford.


Questions you can ask candidates about the intersection of sustainability and food security include:

  1. What actions will your administration take to ensure that no Americans need to settle for food that is bad for them or bad for the planet?
  2. How will you increase the purchasing power of families dependent on SNAP programs?
  3. How will you make sustainable food more accessible to people of all income levels?


Food Insecurity

Key Context

Food deserts are areas vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers. Food insecurity in U.S. counties ranges between three percent of households to more than thirty percent of households.

  • Two percent of Americans are more than 10 miles from a supermarket.
  • Sixty percent of those living in a food desert have an insufficient diet in terms of nutrition.


Questions you can ask about food insecurity include:

  1. How will you address the discrepancy in food quality and availability in marginalized or poor communities?
  2. People in food deserts do often times have access to food, but it is not nutritious enough to sustain and raise a healthy family. How will your administration address the inaccessibility of nutritious food and change the conversation around nutrition to include obesity?
Intersection of Education and Nutrition

Key Context

Americans are undernourished, even when our government is providing the food. Our schools are also failing to provide lasting knowledge about nutritious, affordable, and sustainable food.

  • One in three high school students receives an average of less than one serving of vegetables per day when using the school lunch program. Even this statistic can be misleading because an ingredient like tomato paste can count as a serving of vegetables.
  • Students who eat a school lunch in the United States are twice as likely to have two or fewer servings of fruit in any given day.
  • Four out of every five schools in the United States do not meet the current USDA standards in place for the fat composition that is included in the student lunches.
  • Kids who eat a healthy school lunch compared to an unhealthy school lunch are 340 percent more likely to retain the information they learn during their studies over the course of a day.
  • Only 20 percent of the budget that a school district receives for their lunches comes from the U.S. government.


  1. What will you do to improve the quality of school lunches?
  2. How will you increase Americans’ literacy on the healthiness, affordability, and sustainability of their food?

Further Reading

From the Institute: The Harkin Institute

Lancet Commission report on the Global Syndemic: Learn more about the dangerous, interconnected threat posed by obesity, undernutrition, and climate change in this report from the Lancet Commission. These three pandemics represent what the commission refers to as the Global Syndemic, which affects most people in every country and region worldwide. In its report, the Lancet Commission provides comprehensive recommendations for how to address obesity within the context of the Global Syndemic.

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: Americans need access to reliable health information in order to make healthy choices for themselves and their families. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, provides additional information on America’s health literacy and why access to health information is so important.

American Nutrition Association: Visit the American Nutrition Association’s website for everything you need to know about the science behind nutrition and the key role personalized nutrition plays in keeping Americans healthy.

Tulane University School of Social Work breaks down food deserts in America: This infographic provides a valuable snapshot of the extent of food deserts in the U.S. and the effect the lack of nutritious food has on Americans living in food deserts.