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Research Project: A Systems Approach to Responsive Agriculture

Location: Responsive Agricultural Food Systems Research

Project Number: 3093-51530-001-000-V
Project Type: Invalid Project Type

Start Date: Jul 6, 2021
End Date: Jul 5, 2026

Agriculture directly influences human health by supplying the basic ingredients to a food system that then provides the basis for human diets which directly modify health and risk of chronic disease. The cost of chronic disease in the United States is estimated to be greater than $1 trillion annually. Obesity, the most prevalent, affects 40% of the population, and obesity is causative for other morbidities including diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Further, the criticality of a proper diet has been highlighted with the COVID-19 pandemic in which many have succumbed to the virus due to underlying health conditions such as chronic diseases influenced by the diet. Thus, reducing the risk of diet-related chronic diseases and associated health care costs requires a partnership between agriculture and human health. Researchers seek out to achieve the following objectives: Develop a better understanding of the relationship between animal and plant agricultural production and management, the environment, nutrient quality and content and human health; Develop innovative data strategies to advance precision agriculture and nutrition; link and analyze large and diverse datasets using cutting edge Data Science/Data Engineering approaches such as AI and machine learning; and more clearly define the requirements for and the role of human nutrition in public health, focusing on subgroups and underserved populations and determine whether/how responsive agriculture can help meet these requirements and improve human health.

Diet quality affects the health of all Americans, through maintenance of essential functions and by reduction of the risk of chronic disease. The central importance of diet has been emphasized by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted all segments of society across the United States, but some segments have been shown to be at greater risk than others. Certainly an ubiquitous risk factor is the presence of underlying health concerns. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data suggest that greater than 90% of all COVID-19 deaths occurred in individuals with underling health conditions. Among the primary contributing factors listed by CDC were obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. All of these conditions are responsive to diet, thus poor diets may ultimately underlie much of the increased susceptibility to COVID-19.