Saluting the AMA’s Work on Prevention and Nutrition

The Physicians Committee
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Saluting the AMA’s Work on Prevention and Nutrition

The American Medical Association (AMA) has become an outspoken advocate for prevention and nutrition, calling for healthful foods in schools, hospitals, and government assistance programs, among other initiatives.

It was not always so. In 1991, the AMA took exception to the Physicians Committee’s advocacy for making meat and dairy products strictly optional, writing that “meat and dairy products should be kept in healthy diets.” But things soon changed. In 2004, the AMA wrote that “The AMA recognizes that a great deal of scientific evidence has been accumulated on nutritional issues over the past decade” and that its previous statements about the Physicians Committee’s nutrition advocacy were no longer current.

In 2007, the AMA passed a resolution supporting, among other things, efforts to “provide vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, vegetarian foods, and healthful dairy and nondairy beverages in school lunches and food assistance programs.”

In 2008, the AMA’s Council on Science and Public Health reported, “eating more conventionally produced (i.e., nonorganic, nonlocal) fruits and vegetables in place of animal products improves the sustainability of the food system.”

In 2017, the AMA’s House of Delegates called on U.S. hospitals to “improve the health of patients, staff, and visitors by (1) providing a variety of healthful food, including plant-based meals and meals that are low in fat, sodium, and added sugars, (2) eliminating processed meats from menus, and (3) providing and promoting healthful beverages.” The AMA also called for healthful foods in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The AMA has taken many other helpful positions on nutrition and health, and has published articles by Physicians Committee president Dr. Neal Barnard (who is an AMA Lifetime Member) and his colleagues in its journals:

  • Barnard ND, Akhtar A, Nicholson A. Factors that facilitate com­pliance to lower fat intake. Arch Fam Med. 1995;4:153-8.
  • Barnard ND. The Physician’s Role in Nutrition-Related Disorders: From Bystander to Leader. Virtual Mentor. 2013;15:367-372. Internet: http://virtualmentor.ama-assn.org/2013/04/oped1-1304.html.
  • Yokoyama Y, Nishimura K, Barnard ND, Takegami M, Watanabe M, Sekikawa A, Okamura T, Miyamoto Y. Vegetarian diets and blood pressure: a meta-analysis. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2014;174(4):577-87.
  • Levin S, Wells C, Barnard N. Dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol concentrations. 2015 Nov 17;314(19):2083-4. 
  • Barnard ND, Willett WC, Ding EL. The misuse of meta-analysis in nutrition research. JAMA. 2017;