The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today its new Agricultural Science Center of Excellence for Nutrition and Diet for Better Health (ASCEND for Better Health) in support of President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot effort to end cancer.
This new virtual center will accelerate research on diet-related chronic diseases, including cancer. A long-term goal of the center is to translate research into impactful solutions that improve public health and wellbeing, particularly in underserved communities.
“ASCEND will bring together scientists, partner organizations, and communities to develop and deliver science-based solutions that improve the health and well-being of all Americans, particularly in underserved communities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The virtual center will connect existing resources, including people and programs, to leverage expertise and increase coordination and cooperation.”
USDA is enhancing its research focus on precision nutrition science to better understand the needs of underserved communities. The research complements programmatic efforts to advance food and nutrition security – which means consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe and affordable foods essential to optimal health and well-being.
As part of the announcement, USDA convened a panel of experts that discussed the role that nutrition plays in improving overall health and reducing risks for diet-related chronic diseases.
According to the World Cancer Research Fund, 30-50% of all cancer cases are preventable by following a healthy diet and lifestyle. USDA said it is applying an equity lens to ongoing and new research as it works to understand the connections between diet and diseases like cancer across different populations.
This effort delivers on a commitment made in the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health to end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases by 2030 – all while reducing disparities. The national strategy was released in conjunction with the first White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health in over 50 years, hosted by President Biden on September 28, 2022.