Obama’s aide offers food for Scots thought on healthy eating


AN AIDE to President Obama is to address a Scots conference on healthy eating.

Dr Janey Thornton, Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services at the US Department for Agriculture, is one of the key speakers at Scotland’s National Food and Drink Conference in Perth tomorrow (Wed).

She will tell delegates that promoting healthy eating is not something that can be left to schools alone, and that societal changes are needed if we want to see behaviour change.

Dr Janey Thornton is an aide to Barack Obama

As Deputy Under Secretary, Dr. Thornton is responsible for improving the health and well-being of Americans by developing and promoting dietary guidance and administering the USDA’s 15 nutrition assistance programmes.

These programmes work to end hunger in the US and provide nutrition assistance, dietary guidance and nutrition policy coordination, as well as nutrition education.

Dr Thornton’s presentation in Perth will focus on the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act which President Obama signed in December 2010. The Act authorised funding for federal school meal and child nutrition programmes and increased access to healthy food for low-income children.

Speaking in advance of the conference, Dr Thornton said: “The challenges we all face are issues beyond what can be addressed in schools alone. We have societal challenges that must occur  if the changes we’re making in schools will have the greatest impact. For example, our perception of proper serving sizes have changed tremendously in the last 20-30 years – at least here in the US.

“Our lifestyles have changed and what we used to consider as an occasional treat is now a daily expectation. Our lifestyles have become so hectic that fast-food is often the norm. Fast food is also easier than stopping to prepare healthier fruits and vegetables. Here in the US, with more adults in the workforce, we see fewer home gardens and fewer meals being consumed at home.”

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Scotland has a great deal to celebrate in the food and drink sector where our fine produce and innovative ideas are seeing us attract international attention. Our National Food and Drink Conference is an ideal time to celebrate Scotland’s achievements and I’m delighted that we’ve attracted such high profile speakers as Dr Janey Thornton.

“In Scotland we’ve already done a great deal to improve our school meals through our  Schools Health Promotion and Nutrition Act and it will be fascinating to hear how the American experience relates to this.

“With an abundance of healthy natural ingredients on our doorstep, Scotland has a headstart when it comes to healthy eating but our challenge is to encourage more and more people to enjoy eating fresh, seasonal produce and demonstrating that it need not be expensive.

“There’s a packed programme lined up for the conference and I’m sure all the delegates will enjoy hearing the speakers – from home and abroad – as they help us celebrate our successes.”