Wait and See? Public Health Nutrition Under Trump

As a public health student and worker, I am very anxious to hear President Trump’s policy position in the area of nutrition and food access. It is important for the public health field to understand Trump’s position because the prevalence of obesity in the United States continue to worsen. In fact, almost 35% of adult males and 40% adult females in the country are obese (Flegal, Kruszon-Moran, Carroll, & Ogden, 2016). More disturbingly, the rates of obesity among children have tripled since 1980 (Trust for America’s Health, 2017). These rates translate to higher risks for depression, arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and even mental illness (CDC, 2016). Key strategies to combating obesity includes implementing healthy food service guidelines and creating healthy places to live, work and play (CDC, 2015). What worries me is that whether the new administration will continue to support food access and nutrition programs that prevent obesity.

Tom Vilsack, the former Agriculture Secretary under Obama predicts that nutrition efforts will “remain largely intact under Donald Trump” (Boudreau, 2016). While Vilsack’s prediction may be true, some of the nutrition-related work are funded under the Prevention and Public Health Fund established through the Affordable Care Act (CDC, 2017). What makes the situation more precarious is that the Trump Administration has already commenced disassembling the Affordable Care Act by signing an executive order that permits government agencies to hold enforcement of the law if the law causes financial burden to a person or a state (Kodjak, 2017).

Apart from the recent ACA-related executive order, it remains to be seen whether Trump will reinforce or reframe or refocus the country’s nutrition and food access policy position. What is clear however is that Trump has picked Tom Price as Health Secretary—an anti-ACA surgeon. Time will eventually point us to a policy direction, good or bad. For now, I wait.


Boudreau, C. (2016, December 9). Vilsack predicts Trump won’t gut work on nutrition. Retrieved from Politico: http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/morning-agriculture/2016/12/vilsack-predicts-trump-wont-gut-work-on-nutrition-217797

Flegal, K., Kruszon-Moran, D., Carroll, M., & Ogden, C. (2016). Trends in Obesity Among Adults in the United States, 2005 to 2014. JAMA, 315(21):2284-91.

Kodjak, A. (2017, January 21). Trump’s Executive Order Could Dismantle Parts Of ACA Before Replacement Is Ready. Retrieved from NPR : http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/01/21/510901402/trumps-executive-order-could-dismantle-parts-of-aca-before-replacement-is-ready

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, August 15). Overweight and Obesity. Retrieved from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/causes.html

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, January 5). Prevention and Public Health Fund. Retrieved from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/funding/pphf/

Trust for America’s Health. (2017, January 21). Obesity Rates and Trend. Retrieved from The State of Obesity: http://stateofobesity.org/obesity-rates-trends-overview/




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