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USDA Launches a One Stop Shop for its "One Health" Approach to Zoonotic Threats

At USDA, we use a One Health approach that embraces the idea that problems arising at the intersection of the health of humans, animals, and the environment can be solved only through a coordinated multidisciplinary approach.  This approach embraces the idea that a disease problem impacting the health of humans, animals, and the environment only can be solved through improved communication, cooperation, and collaboration across disciplines and institutions.

Because the One Health work that we do spans across many USDA agencies, we are launching a centralized web portal page to better help our stakeholders and the public better access our information.   This page features USDA’s collective body of work on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), avian influenza and swine influenza as well as other One Health resources.

Modern Solutions for Personal Nutrition

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

Knowing what and how much to eat can be complicated. And in today’s quick-paced society, Americans are looking for modern, on-the-go solutions for all aspects of our lives, including personal nutrition. USDA offers a variety of online tools, available on desktop, tablet, and mobile, to help you plan a healthy diet and see how you’re doing over time.

SuperTracker is a free food, physical activity, and weight tracking tool. It provides nutrition recommendations based on the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans that are personalized for your specific needs. You can track your foods to see how your choices stack up and quickly identify small changes for improvement. SuperTracker can help you build your own healthy eating style through interactive tracking. The Food Tracker feature offers an at-a-glance view of your dietary intake, including the five MyPlate food groups, calories, added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium.

#USDARoadTrip: USDA Innovates to Meet Your Needs

USDA is in the solutions business. And now more than ever, we’re committed to working beside farmers, ranchers, rural businesses and partners to find innovative and collaborative solutions that meet the ever-evolving interests of the American people.

This week, as part of our USDA summer road trip, we’ll take you through a few of our signature advancements from recent years that help us to better serve your needs, including a series of mobile and web based applications that allow you to interact with USDA programs and services your way.

Reach Your Goal Weight Your Way with the NIH Body Weight Planner and USDA's SuperTracker

Many people want to do a better job managing their weight but aren’t sure how. Whether you’re trying to maintain your weight, lose weight, or gain weight it can be challenging to figure out how to get started.

USDA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) teamed up to bring you a simple new tool that can help you set, reach, and maintain your goal. Using science-based technology, the NIH Body Weight Planner calculates how many calories you need to eat and how much exercise you need to achieve a goal weight within a specific time period. You set the goal and decide what timeframe makes sense for you.

New Resource Provides A Key to Unlock Tips on Healthy Aging

Just in time for the 2015 White House Conference on Aging, the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion and National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health,  are co-publishing a new resource, “Choosing Healthy Meals as You Get Older: 10 Healthy Eating Tips for People Age 65+” to provide practical advice about enjoying healthy meals no matter what your age. Our bodies change through our 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond and making healthy food choices is a smart thing to do at any age!

As you get older, food is the best way to get nutrients you need.  It’s important to find sensible, flexible ways to choose and prepare tasty meals. Eating is more enjoyable when you are with others, so try to make your meals a social event.  There are many ways to make mealtimes pleasing.

#AgStrong Innovation in Rural America

It takes a lot of hard work to make a living out of farming, to build a thriving agricultural business and it takes ingenuity. This is especially true in rural America, where dedicated farmers and ranchers rely on each other and the communities around them to fuel innovation and create opportunity. From nutritional research to competitions that promote sustainability and continued environmental care, ag promotion programs—with oversight from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)—help American farmers make long-term investments that ensure a better future for everyone.

For more than 30 years, California almond growers have pooled their resources under the Almond Board, focusing on research and techniques to make the most of precious water resources.  Efficient water use and irrigation management are vital to the success of California’s Central Valley almond growers, ensuring that consumer demand for almonds can be met sustainably.  State-of-the-art farming and production developments over the past two decades have helped farmers reduce the amount of water they use per pound of almonds grown by 33 percent. Key strategies have included the wide adoption of micro-irrigation as well as advances in soil assessment and monitoring.

New Tools Encourage Connections, Collaboration, and Creativity Among Scientists Nationwide

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

We count on food and agricultural research to solve a wide variety of problems. USDA’s research programs contribute to improvements to crop and livestock production, natural resource conservation, human nutrition, food safety, and many other topics. Our science agencies carry out USDA’s research mission across different geographical regions, covering a broad spectrum of scientific disciplines and topics important to American agriculture and consumers in general.

On the Front Lines for Our Children

Cross-posted from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network blog:

When you think about organizations engaged in the War on Cancer, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) may not be the first that comes to mind. Yet, we are on the front lines of the battle to reduce obesity, a known risk factor for many types of cancer, each and every day.

The impact of obesity on future health outlooks is shocking. The American Society of Clinical Oncology estimates that one in three cancer deaths in 2012 were related to obesity, poor nutrition or physical inactivity. In the next ten years, obesity is predicted to overtake tobacco as the number one preventable cause of cancer. That estimate is supported by the National Institutes of Health’s prediction that by 2030, we could see an additional 400,000 cases of cancer in the United States as a result of continuing obesity trends.

Workshop Discusses Delving Deeper into the Animal Genome

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

The idea that around 80 percent of human DNA is “junk” DNA with no real purpose never sat well with scientists.  So in 2003, researchers funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health started working on a project called ENCODE, which was designed to study the role of non-coding “junk” DNA in genetic expression and to define basic functional units in the human genome.

USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are spearheading a parallel project called AgENCODE, which takes a similar approach to exploring the mechanics of DNA regulation in key livestock species. “We can identify 70 to 90 percent (or more) of the DNA coding elements in animal genomes, but we don’t know much at all about the non-coding elements,” says ARS National Program Leader Jeffrey Silverstein, who is helping to organize the AgENCODE effort. “We think many of these non-coding segments regulate gene activity, and we need to understand how these segments affect the expression of an animal’s physical traits, which is very important in breeding.”

USDA launches National Institute of Food and Agriculture and a New Era in Agricultural Science

Today we are formally launching a new enterprise in USDA science, a National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).  NIFA will be a real agent of transformation in how we do science at USDA, not just in this new agency, but across the board.  As I reflect on this pivotal moment for USDA science, I am reminded of another transformative episode in USDA history:  the Morrill Act of 1862 that created the land-grant university system that has been the scaffold for building the research enterprise we have today.