Nutrition Across the Lifespan

Research center directors join forces to make the case for the health impacts of strong science

Sarah Booth and Jim McGovern in Washington

The directors of three U.S. nutrition research centers went to Capitol Hill March 8 to emphasize the critical role good nutrition plays in good health and the ways federal nutrition research can help keep people healthier and combat the nation’s rising health-care costs.

Sarah Booth, director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts, joined Dennis Bier, director of Baylor College of Medicine’s Children’s Nutrition Research Center in Texas, and Sean Adams, director of the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, in presenting at the briefing to lawmakers titled, “The Value of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Across the Lifespan”.

President Donald Trump’s 2019 budget, released in February, proposed eliminating the funding for all three centers, which are supported by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.

In a letter to his colleagues in the Senate and House, U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., a co-sponsor of the event, called the research centers “national assets.”

“Robust support for nutrition research across the lifespan is needed to provide Americans with a clear understanding of the role of nutrition in maintaining a healthy, active life,” wrote McGovern, the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Nutrition and co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus. “This research will help prepare our nation for rising health-care costs associated with the aging of the baby boomer generation and the anticipated 2-billion-person growth in the global population by 2050.”

Booth explained at the event that research from the human nutrition centers supports national standards such as the Recommended Dietary Allowances, the Dietary Reference Intakes, and the Dietary Guidelines.

“The USDA human nutrition centers help people live longer, healthier, and more independently because of their knowledge about agriculture, food, and nutrition,” she said.

McGovern said he would continue to fight for funding the centers. “Part of their success is attributable to strong, federal partnership and continuous funding,” he said. “We need to make sure that continues.”  

Julie Flaherty can be reached at

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