Dr. Patrick Stover presenting, “Enhancing the Purpose of Food,” for the USDA-ARS Under the Microscope Memorial Lecture Series
Dr. Patrick Stover testifies in front of full House Committee on Agriculture as part of “Innovation, Employment, Integrity, and Health: Opportunities for Modernization in Title IV” hearing.
WASHINGTON – June 8, 2023 – Patrick J. Stover, Ph.D., director of the Texas A&M Institute for Advancing Health Through Agriculture (IHA), testified in front of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture yesterday to document that swift action is needed to reverse the increasing rates of diet-related chronic diseases and their subsequent economic burden on health care systems and costs.
Given that many of the drivers of chronic disease are related to diet, health behaviors, and our food systems, Dr. Stover was poised to provide insightful comments on our healthcare burdens, saliently offering solutions. The IHA’s research aims to align Precision Nutrition, Responsive Agriculture, and Healthy Living as a solution to the pressing health crisis affecting all Americans. Medical costs associated with dietrelated diabetes alone total more than $327 billion annually.
“Agriculture and food are the only feasible solutions to address our skyrocketing health care costs. We need to develop a systems-based approach to connect agriculture, food, nutrition, and human health,” said Dr. Stover.
The committee hearing focused on federal nutrition programs, and Stover in his testimony cited the disproportionate impact of chronic diseases and food insecurity and associated costs on rural, underserved, and underrepresented communities, underscoring the urgent need for agriculture-centered, responsive solutions.
“We need to continue the work to eliminate hunger while expanding our mission to also ensure that our food environments promote human health,” said Dr. Stover. “Both the food environment that consumers experience, and consumer health behaviors need to be addressed together through sound policy grounded in high-quality scientific evidence that is lacking at this time.”
A strong evidence base is needed to ensure that policy is driven by the best science – to this end, Dr. Stover created the Agriculture, Food, & Nutrition Evidence Center at Texas A&M University. Dr. Stover also emphasized that the United States has made extraordinarily successful advances through nutrition and agriculture already, but that hunger and health must become the new endpoints for our food systems to adapt to if we are going to tackle the problem of chronic diseases.
“Farmers and ranchers have always been prepared to meet the needs and expectations of the nation, they feed America, and want to be part of the solution to help all Americans,” Stover emphasized.
Dr. Stover, an international leader in biochemistry, agriculture, and nutrition, is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has more than two decades of academic leadership experience, including serving as Vice Chancellor and Dean at Texas A&M AgriLife. Last month, he was named the 2023 W.O. Atwater Memorial Lecturer in recognition of his outstanding contributions to nutrition research.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas, May 16, 2023 — Patrick J. Stover, Ph.D., director of the Texas A&M Institute for Advancing Health through Agriculture (IHA), has been named the 2023 W.O. Atwater Memorial Lecturer in recognition of his outstanding contributions to nutrition research.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) established the Atwater Lecture as a tribute to Wilbur Olin Atwater, an influential figure in modern nutrition research and education. It goes to scientists who have made exceptional efforts in improving the diet and nutrition of people around the globe.
The prestigious award represents the latest acknowledgement of the IHA’s contributions advancing research in responsive agriculture and precision nutrition and promoting a healthy diet and lifestyles.
“Dr. Stover is leading a charge toward positive impacts of nutrition and how people of the United States – and the world – consume food,” said Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp. “We are proud to have him on our team at Texas A&M, in conjunction with our partnerships with the USDA-ARS, and look forward to continuing to support his vision.”
His lecture, “Enhancing the Purpose of Food,” will focus on agriculture, food and nutrition as a solution to challenges facing society. It will be presented at Nutrition 2023, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, July 22-25 in Boston. Past recipients have included prominent research scientists and academics.
Stover, an international leader in biochemistry, agriculture and nutrition, is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
“Being named an Atwater Memorial Lecturer is so humbling, given the legacy of Dr. Atwater and those who have previously been recognized, and highlights the critical importance of the work we are doing at the Institute for Advancing Health Through Agriculture,” Stover said.
“Our research strives to create meaningful connections in agriculture, food and human health through impactful fundamental and translational research. The research holds the key to mitigating the prevalence of diet-related chronic diseases while also considering the broader environmental and economic impacts of our food systems,” he said.
Stover, a former president of the American Society for Nutrition, has served two terms on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board. He received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Clinton, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers.
“This award recognizes global leaders who work to improve human health through food systems. Dr. Stover’s visionary creation of the IHA will advance our ability to improve health and reduce chronic disease through collaborations of responsive agriculture, precision nutrition and social and behavioral research,” said Regan Bailey, Ph.D., IHA associate director for Precision Nutrition. “The IHA is the first of its kind to have such a multidisciplinary focus, and our partnerships with USDA would make Dr. Atwater proud.”
Stover has more than 23 years of academic leadership experience, serving as vice chancellor and dean for agriculture and life sciences at Texas A&M AgriLife, director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research and director the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Saint Joseph’s University, a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biophysics from the Medical College of Virginia and completed his postdoctoral studies in nutritional sciences at the University of California, Berkeley.
New study aims to set priorities for supporting health through food and agriculture by developing a National Roadmap for Responsive Agriculture Solutions
College Station, Texas (May 10, 2023) – Texas A&M’s Institute for Advancing Health Through Agriculture (IHA) is spearheading a study that focuses on advancing the concept of responsive agriculture and is seeking experts and leaders in the agriculture-food value chain to serve one of its three committees. The committees, along with a recently named Task Force, will help develop a road map to achieve responsive agriculture, an agricultural system and food environment that supports health through nutrition while ensuring the system is economically robust and environmentally sustainable for future generations.
To help facilitate this effort, the IHA has partnered with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Center on Global Food and Agriculture (the Chicago Council) to organize and harness the synergy of these diverse and important committees toward this effort. The new study, titled “A National Roadmap for Responsive Agriculture Solutions,” has already convened a nationwide expert Task Force to guide the development of a national roadmap on priorities that will enable responsive agriculture solutions across the nation. Over the next 18 months, the Task Force will be informed by three committees in the domains of 1) chronic disease reduction, 2) agricultural ecosystems and agriculture-food value chain and 3) securing nutrition equity.
The IHA is seeking experts and leaders to serve on these three committees from across the full spectrum of agriculture-food value chain, including researchers engaged in scientific research and applied agricultural technologies, decision-makers, public health professionals, food and agriculture related industry representatives, professional societies, consumers and policy and medical experts. The intent is to bring together experts who may not traditionally routinely interact or work collaboratively, yet collectively hold the synergistic and unique potential to advance responsive agriculture.
“A collaborative effort of this magnitude is essential to realize the concept of responsive agriculture. We believe that convening experts in this arena will pave the way by creating a roadmap to ultimately reduce diet-related chronic diseases,” said Patrick Stover, Ph.D., director of the IHA and chair of the Task Force.
The Task Force is charged with guiding the development of a final consensus report—a roadmap for action with recommendations useful for various stakeholders across food and health systems, policymakers, funding agencies and decision-makers in the private and public sectors. The expected release date of the Responsive Agriculture Roadmap is mid- to late- 2024.
“With the Task Force, we can use science-driven solutions to improve human health by transforming the food system and environment to achieve equitable access through choices that promote health and nutrition through food,” said Peggy Yih, managing director of the Center on Global Food and Agriculture at the Chicago Council and the Task Force staff study director. “The Chicago Council is incredibly excited to partner with the IHA to facilitate these efforts to enable responsive agriculture solutions to benefit the nation.”
Task Force members include:
- Patrick Stover, Ph.D. (chair), IHA Director
- Regan Bailey, Ph.D., IHA Associate Director for Precision Nutrition
- Catherine Bertini, Chicago Council Distinguished Fellow
- Dan Gustafson, Ph.D., Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Special Representative of the Director-General
- Scott Hutchins, former USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics; Global R&D Leader for Dow AgroSciences (now Corteva AgriScience), retired
- A.G. Kawamura, Solutions from the Land Founding Co-Chair
- Elizabeth Parker, D.V.M., IHA Associate Director of International Programs and Strategic Initiatives
- Rebecca Seguin-Fowler, Ph.D., IHA Associate Director for Healthy Living
- Pam Starke-Reed, Ph.D., United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service Deputy Administrator for Nutrition, Food Safety, and Quality
- Bernhard van Lengerich, Ph.D., Seeding The Future Foundation Founder and CEO, General Mills Inc. former Chief Science Officer
Nominations close on June 7, 2023. To learn more about the study, the Task Force, the charges for each of the committees, or the call for nominations, please visit https://iha.tamu.edu/responsive-agriculture-study/.
The United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS) is funding the efforts for this study.
About Texas A&M Institute for Advancing Health Through Agriculture
The IHA is the world’s first research institute to bring together precision nutrition, responsive agriculture, and behavioral research to reduce diet-related chronic disease in a way that considers environmental and economic effects. The institute partners with the USDA-ARS Responsive Agricultural Food Systems Research Unit, in which researchers work with other USDA-ARS programs and land-grant universities nationwide to bring big data, state-of-the-art sensors and computational systems approaches to responsive agriculture, precision nutrition, and behavioral research.
About the Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Founded in 1922, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing knowledge and engagement in global affairs. Our in-depth analysis and expert-led research influence policy conversations and inform the insights we share with our growing community. Through accessible content and open dialogue of diverse, fact-based perspectives, we empower more people to help shape our global future. Learn more at globalaffairs.org.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; however, women and rural residents face notable health disparities compared with male and urban counterparts. Community-engaged programs hold promise to help address disparities through health behavior change and maintenance, the latter of which is critical to achieving clinical improvements and public health impact.
A cluster-randomized controlled trial of Strong Hearts, Healthy Communities-2.0 conducted in medically underserved rural communities examined health outcomes and maintenance among women aged ≥40 years, who had a body mass index >30 or body mass index 25 to 30 and also sedentary. The multilevel intervention provided 24 weeks of twice-weekly classes with strength training, aerobic exercise, and skill-based nutrition education (individual and social levels), and civic engagement components related to healthy food and physical activity environments (community, environment, and policy levels). The primary outcome was change in weight; additional clinical and functional fitness measures were secondary outcomes. Mixed linear models were used to compare between-group changes at intervention end (24 weeks); subgroup analyses among women aged ≥60 years were also conducted. Following a 24-week no-contact period, data were collected among intervention participants only to evaluate maintenance.
Five communities were randomized to the intervention and 6 to the control (87 and 95 women, respectively). Significant improvements were observed for intervention versus controls in body weight (mean difference: −3.15 kg [95% CI, −4.98 to −1.32]; P=0.008) and several secondary clinical (eg, waist circumference: −3.02 cm [−5.31 to −0.73], P=0.010; systolic blood pressure: −6.64 mmHg [−12.67 to −0.62], P=0.031; percent body fat: −2.32% [−3.40 to −1.24]; P<0.001) and functional fitness outcomes; results were similar for women aged ≥60 years. The within-group analysis strongly suggests maintenance or further improvement in outcomes at 48 weeks.
This cardiovascular disease prevention intervention demonstrated significant, clinically meaningful improvements and maintenance among rural, at-risk older women.
URL: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov; Unique identifier: NCT03059472.