October 26, 2009
The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) is an interdisciplinary academic center that promotes research and communicates information about the complex interrelationships among diet, food production, environment and human health. Some of CLF’s work focuses on understanding food environments and the influence they have on eating behaviors; identifying what helps people adopt healthier eating behaviors; and creating food environments so that people have access to nutritious, affordable, culturally appropriate, and healthy food on a regular basis.
CLF serves as a scientific advisor to the non-profit initiative, Meatless Monday , serving as a primary source for evidence-based health and nutrition information. Meatless Monday was developed following the release of Healthy People 2010 in 2000 by then U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher. One of the goals for the nation was to reduce the consumption of saturated fat by at least 15 percent by 2010 – a goal that is consistent with the dietary recommendations of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the American Heart Association.
The USDA says the country’s male population currently consumes 170 percent of the recommended daily allowance for meat while American females consume 135 percent of the RDA. In the U.S., 65 percent of protein consumed comes from animal sources, compared with a world average of 30 percent.
In addition, the Meatless Monday approach is consistent with recommendations included in the Institute of Medicine’s report School Meals: Building Blocks for Healthy Children, released on Oct 20, 2009. Among other strong recommendations, the report points to the need to align school meals with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and adopt standards for menu planning that increase the amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole grains with an increased focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat in children’s diets.
CLF recently honored the Baltimore City Public Schools for their leadership in promoting healthy eating among school children and for reintroducing healthy foods to school cafeterias by using fresh, local food, and by meeting or exceeding all USDA nutritional requirements for the Federal School Lunch Program. As part of this effort the schools have recently incorporated a Meatless Monday menu.