Elevating Nutrition Research: Impacts on Aging

Lewis-Burke worked with a leading, university-based research center to develop a multi-faceted strategy to elevate science within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and increase the relatively small research budgets of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The effort was complicated by the prescriptive priorities USDA has set for the research funding that is available.  After considerable background research, Lewis-Burke worked with the client to generate congressional support for the ARS, which provides critical core funding for nutrition research centers. The firm arranged meetings for the Center Director to brief the Senate authorizing committee as it prepared the Farm Bill.  Lewis-Burke identified the need to highlight the importance of agricultural research as it impacts nutrition in a rapidly aging population where nearly one in five U.S. residents will be age 65 or older in 2030. The strategy included meetings with the Senate Special Committee on Aging, the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees, and individual Member offices to illustrate how research into nutrition can benefit aging Americans by keeping them active longer, delaying or reducing the effects of chronic illnesses and obesity, and reducing health care costs for such diseases. A successful case was made that ARS provides critical core funding for nutrition research, and it leverages an equal amount of research funding to address the health challenges of rapidly aging Americans. With the efforts of Lewis-Burke and the nutrition research center, the House Appropriations Committee included report language accompanying the annual appropriations bill acknowledging that “nutrition plays a vital role in how a person ages,” and encouraging ARS to continue research on “the effect of nutrition on aging.”