Jason Block, MD, MPH, Associate Director of the Obesity Prevention Program in DPM is leading a strategic planning effort at DHHS to develop federal policy in nutrition and physical activity. Jason’s research focuses on nutrition policy, along with more recent work on PCORnet. As part of his work on nutrition policy, he recently took on an actual policy role. Since April and through the end of the current administration, he is serving as a part-time Senior Advisor to the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health at the US Department of Health and Human Services. His primary role is to lead a strategic planning effort on federal policy in nutrition and physical activity. He has been tasked with surveying existing federal activities in these areas and to explore whether there are opportunities for improvement and expansion.
The Obama administration has made a tremendous investment in nutrition and physical activity policy. The Let's Move! program, led by First Lady Michelle Obama, has brought together government officials at all levels, public health researchers and advocates, and private industry, with a goal of reducing childhood obesity.
The Obama administration also has enhanced the dietary quality of food offered in school nutrition programs and other food assistance programs, implemented calorie labeling in chain food establishments, proposed new Nutrition Facts labels, offered voluntary standards for reducing sodium in packaged foods, and invested in infrastructure to support active transportation, among other activities.
But, more can be done, and the federal government has the ability to enact meaningful and lasting changes that will encourage physical activity and improvements in diet quality. Jason will be working in the coming months to finalize his report to the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health and to help prepare materials that could support the transition to the next administration.