Nutrition in Healthcare Leadership Team

Nutrition in Healthcare Leadership Team

Poor eating habits are a serious and costly problem. In 2009, the U.S. spent approximately $147 billion on treatment of/health issues stemming from obesity, overweight, and physical inactivity - most of which are preventable. Many of our neighborhoods are inundated with unhealthy, inexpensive foods and beverages. In order to ensure everyone has access to healthful, affordable foods, significant changes are needed to our current food system.

Hospitals recognize the major role they can play in sparking this transformation. As recognized authorities on health and wellness, hospital systems across San Diego County are coming together to model and promote healthy and sustainable food in their cafeterias, patient meals, and the community. The Nutrition in Healthcare Leadership Team (NHLT) was launched as a joint effort between Healthy WorksSM, a countywide initiative making systems and environmental changes promoting wellness and addressing the nationwide obesity epidemic, and the Healthcare Domain. The Healthcare Domain continues to support this work as an active domain work plan.

In April 2011, the COI's Healthcare Domain in conjunction with Healthy WorksSM launched the Nutrition in Healthcare Leadership Team (NHLT), a consortium of healthcare food service, sustainability, and wellness professionals. In September 2012, the NHLT completed a multi-year strategic plan that outlines its vision, mission, and goals, which include:


San Diego County healthcare systems promote optimal health by ensuring all foods and beverages served are healthy, fresh, affordable, and produced in a manner that supports the local economy, environment, and community.


The mission of the NHLT is to advance healthful, sustainable food and beverage practices in San Diego County healthcare systems through collaboration.


  1. Make healthful food the standard [in healthcare].
  2. Make healthful beverages the standard [in healthcare].
  3. Leverage collective buying power to increase cost-effective, healthful, and sustainable food and beverage choices.
  4. Collaborate and foster opportunities for collaboration among healthcare systems.
  5. Raise the "food literacy" of patients and their families, employees, physicans, and the community.
  6. Support evaluation and tracking of food and beverage practices across healthcare systems.

For information on the specific strategies and timeline of the strategic plan, see the final strategic plan.

The NHTL is currently comprised of over 13 hospital facilities representing nine hospital systems including:

  • Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego
  • University of California San Diego (UCSD) Health System
  • Palomar Health
  • Sharp Healthcare
  • Tri-City Medical Center
  • Kaiser Permanente San Diego
  • Scripps Health
  • Naval Medical Center
  • San Diego Psychiatric Hospital

The NHLT is open to all hospitals and healthcare systems.  If your system is interested in learning more, please contact Colin Cureton, the Director of Food Systems for the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative, a program of Community Health Improvement Partners.

Check out the presentation on "Multi-Sectoral Collaboration for a Healthy Food System: Nutrition in Healthcare Leadership Team" provided by Colin Cureton at the 2015 National Childhood Obesity Conference!

Made possible by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, through the County of San Diego.





June 27, 2016 NHLT Event: Food as Medicine and Healthcare's Role in a Healthy Food System

Topics of discussion included:

  • the role of food in health promotion and preventive medicine
  • local and national examples of hospitals leading the way in advancing healthy and sustainable food and beverage practices
  • how hospitals can leverage their collective buying power and expertise to help shape a healthy and sustainable food system

Presentations provided by CHIP, the Natural Gourmet Institute, UCSD Division of Preventive Medicine, The Democracy Collaborative and Health Care Without Harm are available here.

NHLT Fact Sheets

Healthy Beverages in Healthcare

Healthy Vending in Healthcare

Local Produce in Healthcare

Less Meat, Better Meat

These documents include the NHLT's definitions and evidence-based rationale for each guideline.

We encourage hospitals to use these to educate stakeholders on the importance of these four subjects: healthy beverages, healthy vending, local produce, and less meat, better meat.

NHLT Annotated Bibliographies

Flavored Milk

Non-Nutritive Artificial Sweeteners

The NHLT examined a broad range of scientific opinions before categorizing flavored milk and non-nutritive artificial sweeteners (NNS) in its Healthy Beverages in Healthcare document. Here we present that range in the form of 2 annotated bibliographies.

Balanced Menus: a Pilot Evaluation of Implementation in Four San Francisco Bay Area Hospitals

Balanced Menus is a voluntary program that seeks to improve nutrition and benefit the environment by reducing meat purchasing among participating hospitals by 20 percent within 12 months while also shifting towards serving more sustainable produced meat.  This report describes the results of a pilot evaluation of Balanced Menus program implementation in four San Fransisco Bay Area hospitals.

Emerging Local Food Purchasing Initiatives in Northern California Hospitals

This report from the Agricultural Sustainability Institute through UC Davis presents a cross-section of current farm-to-hospital initiatives in the region, in order t demostrate what has been accomplished in Northern california hospitals and how.  the report is intended to help hospital foodservice providers plan and develop their own local food sourcing practices.

Food Matters: Hospitals Serving Up a Menu of Change

Health care facilities across the continent are recognizing that the food system - how our food is produced and distributed - is misaligned with dietary guidelines, and is largely reliant on methods of production and distribution that harm public and environmental health. Hospitals are responding by adopting healthy food purchasing policies, health care organizations are demonstrating a commitment to "first, do no harm" and treating food and its production and distribution as preventive medicine that protects the health of patients, staff, and communities.

Food Matters: Clinicians Address an Industrialized Food System Gone Awry

Healthcare clinicians play a vital role in educating their patients, community and institutions. Clinicians are recognized as trusted experts on health-related issues, not only in the clinic, but in society as well. Well-informed and prepared clinicians can dramatically influence and educate others about the importance of healthy and ecologically sustainable food systems. Clinicians can play a vital role in supporting practices and policies in medical schools, hospitals, and other health care facilities that support and model a healthy and ecologically sustainable food system.

Food Matters: In the Womb and Beyond

Healthy eating habits begin in the womb and continue through early childhood. Healthcare clinicians play a vital role in educating their patients, community and institutions about the importance of healthy and ecologically sustainable food.

Healthier Hospitals Agenda

The Healthier Hospitals Initiative, a coalition of leading health systems and organizations committed to improving sustainability and safety across the health care sector, has created the Healthier Hospitals Agenda to chart a path to a healthier, more sustainable and more cost-effective health care system.

Encouraging Healthier Choices in Hospitals

This 2014 report from Health Care Without Harm and the Center for Science in the Public Interest examines SSB-reduction strategies in 11 hospitals around the nation, including San Diego County's Rady's Children's Hospital, which has significantly decreased SSB consumption even while it has boosted beverage sales revenue.

Food Matters Training (11/9/2013) Presentations

Christine Wood: Call to Action-Advocacy

Kendra Klein: Healthy Food in Healthcare-Moving from Ideals to Action

Melanie Fiorella: Food Matters-Impacts of the Industrialized Food System on Maternal and Child Health

Ted Schettler: Food Matters-A Clinical & Public Health Framework for Food-Related Health

Joe Libertucci: NHLT Presentation

Palomar Medical Center Presentation

Sharp HealthCare Presentation

Scripps Hospital System Presentation

Kindred Hospital Presentation

Rotating Slides

Food Matters is a clinical education and advocacy training developed by the Health Care Without Harm Healthy Food in Health Care Program for physicians, nurses, dietitians, and other maternal/child healthcare professionals.  The training reviews the obesity and Western disease epidemic and the current science around exposures to environmental toxicants within our food system and the impacts of these exposures on pediatric, reproductive, and ecological health. The Food Matters program is a comprehensive package to encourage hospitals and healthcare professionals to become leaders and advocates for a food system that promotes public and environmental health.

This training was developed by the Nutrition in Healthcare Leadership Team, a subcommittee of the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative, a program facilitated by Community Health Improvement Partners, Health Care Without Harm, San Francisco Bay Area Physicians for Social Responsibility, and University of California San Francisco's Program on Reproductive Health and Environment. This training was jointly sponsored by Community Health Improvement Partners and PAC/LAC (Perinatal Advisory Council: Leadership, Advocacy, and Consultation).

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Quick Facts

  • Overweight children are far more likely to be obese as adults (California Center of Public Health Advocacy, 2009)
  • If today‚Äôs current trend continues, it is anticipated that 1 in 3 children born in the US after the year 2000 will develop type 2 diabetes (American Diabetes Association, 2009).
  • More children are being diagnosed with diseases linked to overweight and obesity previously seen only in adults, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease (The Obesity Society, 2009).

News & Upcoming Events

See our latest newsletter and the COI calendar for upcoming events.

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Core funding provided in part by:

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A project facilitated by:

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