One of the largest public health challenges we face today is chronic disease, which accounts for more than 60% of the world’s preventable deaths[1]. Chronic disease, an umbrella category for illnesses such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer, has grown significantly in the last 20 years and is costing us billions in medical expenses. And to a large extent these diseases can be prevented or mitigated through diet and lifestyle changes.

As part of the effort to shift away from diets that are calorie-dense but are mainly nutrient-poor, the public health sector is undergoing an awakening to the value of increasing seafood consumption. What do the seas have to do with nutrition? In essence, to grow old and healthy we need to take in nutrients from the seas. It really is “The Old Man and The Sea.”

Seafood is a lean protein filled with healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. It is also more environmentally efficient than other proteins to produce, with aquaculture using less feed (and less fresh water) than other proteins. Unfortunately, at present 80-90% of Americans are confused about seafood and whether to add it to their diets.[2] The main reasons for such low rates of seafood consumption are lack of knowledge in selecting and buying seafood, low confidence in knowing how to properly cook seafood, and a perception that seafood is expensive.

Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP) released a whitepaper this October titled “Breaking Barriers: Empowering America’s Underserved with Resources and Access to a Healthy Diet.”[3] This whitepaper outlines SNP’s campaign to bring seafood nutrition to those with the greatest need. Below is an excerpt.

[1] World Health Organization. 2011. Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2010. http://www.who.int/nmh/publications/ncd_report_full_en.pdf

[2] USDA AgResearch Magazine, August 2015, “Consumers Missing Out On Seafood Benefits” http://agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov/2015/aug/seafood/

[3] http://www.seafoodnutrition.org/uploads/1/9/5/0/19505793/snp_whitepaper-oct2015.pdf

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