Project Description

Senator Geroge McGovern with President Richard Nixon, 1968

The 1969 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health (WHC) had a significant influence on the direction of food and nutrition policy in the United States. The conference produced recommendations leading to federal legislation and programs to alleviate hunger and malnutrition, improve consumers’ nutrition knowledge through education and labeling, and monitor the nutritional status of the population. Fifty years later, its legacy was revisited at a conference convened by Harvard University and Tufts University. Our article, forthcoming in the Annual Review of Nutrition, reviews the literature contributing to Dr. Cathie Woteki’s keynote speech at that conference as well as its influencers and its influences. We focus on the highlights of five domains that set the stage for the conference: the social environment, the food environment, nutrition science, public health data, and policy events. We briefly describe the conference, its proposed directions, and its lasting legacy in these five domains.

In the process of preparing the manuscript on the WHC, Dr. Woteki worked with Dr. Brandon Kramer, Dr. Vicki Lancaster, and Dr. Sam Cohen (in the Social and Division Analytics Divisision of the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute and Initiative) who helped implement various computational techniques to supplement the historical analysis of the five domains. This website provides some of the findings from our research, including interactive timelines of important events before and after the 1969 WHC, a text network of the original 1969 WHC Report, and an analysis of key terms used in the nutrition science literature from 1919-2019. Click on our Supplementary Analyses page, visit our GitHub repo, or read this press release from the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute to learn more.