Preventing obesity and chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers is possible through healthful eating habits and a physically active lifestyle, according to a newly updated position paper of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Because diseases can take many years – sometimes decades – to develop, the best prevention is early prevention.

The Academy’s updated position paper, “The Role of Nutrition in Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention,” was recently published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and can be found on the here. It states:

It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that primary prevention is the most effective and affordable method to prevent chronic disease, and that dietary intervention positively impacts health outcomes across the life span. Registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered, are critical members of health care teams and are essential to delivering nutrition-focused preventive services in clinical and community settings, advocating for policy and programmatic initiatives and leading research in disease prevention and health promotion.

“Primary prevention” means preventing disease risk factors, according to the Academy position paper authors, and it is critical for health promotion and chronic disease prevention. Nutrition and physical activity are essential elements of primary prevention at every stage of the life cycle. Healthful eating habits and a physically active lifestyle are two of the most important ways to prevent chronic disease. “Follow a healthy lifestyle throughout all stages of life,” according to the authors.

To help make a healthier lifestyle the easier choice, the position paper’s authors recommend people support and advocate for healthy environments where they shop, work and live, and advocate for policies supporting healthier environments.

“Get reliable information and support from credentialed nutrition and dietetics practitioners such as registered dietitian nutritionists and dietetic technicians, registered to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and prevent disease,” according to the authors. “RDNs and DTRs can help in developing school and workplace policies, community programs and cooking and shopping strategies for families and individuals.”

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Press Release