Healthy Eating and Active Living

ACS CAN is working at the local, state and federal levels to prevent the one in five cancer cases caused by poor diet, physical inactivity and excess weight by advocating for legislation and regulations that make schools healthier, build healthy communities for all and support people with information in making healthy choices.

Featured Resources: 

Healthy Eating and Active Living Resources:

Kids' meals are designed to appeal to young children but can be higher in calories, saturated fat, and sodium while being lower in nutrients than foods eaten at home.  This fact sheet outlines potential issues with kids' meals and notes ACS CAN's support for improving the nutritional quality for food and beverage options in restaurants, particularly for children’s meals.  

Excess body weight, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption, and poor nutrition are major risk factors for cancer, and approximately one fifth of the estimated 1.7 million cancer cases expected to be diagnosed this year can be attributed to the combination of these risk factors.  This fact sheet explains the role of healthy eating and active living in reducing one's cancer risk and notes public-policy opportunities to help to create healthy social and physical environments and to provide consumers with clear, useful information that fosters healthy lifestyle choices.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) respectfully submit the following comments on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) comprehensive, multi-year Nutrition Innovation Strategy.  

For the majority of Americans who do not use tobacco products, weight management, good nutrition, and physical activity are the greatest modifiable determinants of cancer risk.

American Cancer Society Guidelines Resources:

Cancer survivors are often highly motivated to seek information about food choices, physical activity, and dietary supplements to improve their treatment outcomes, quality of life, and overall survival.

The American Cancer Society provides evidence-based guidelines for how individuals and communities can reduce their cancer risk through nutrition and physical activity.

School Nutrition Resources:

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and partners signed a statement in opposition to using the appropriations process to change or weaken the federal child nutrition programs.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network provided comments on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's proposed rule for Local School Wellness Policy Implementation.

Sugary Drinks Resources:

Sugary drinks, also known as sugar-sweetened beverages, are the leading source of added sugar and one of the leading sources of calories in Americans’ diets.  Nearly half of all added sugars come from sugary beverages.  This fact sheet provides more information about the impact of sugary drinks on cancer risk and about policies to reduce consumption of sugary drinks.

Approximately 20 percent of all cancers are caused by poor diet, physical inactivity, excess weight and excess alcohol consumption.

Physical Education and Physical Activity in Schools Resources:

Regular physical activity promotes children’s growth and development and offers physical, mental, and cognitive health benefits. Children who are more active also demonstrate higher scholastic achievement, better classroom behavior, greater ability to focus, and less absenteeism than their unfit peers.1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Quality physical education is the best way to help children achieve recommended levels of physical activity, while gaining the knowledge and skills they will need to be healthy and active for the rest of their lives. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) supports policies that promote quality physical education and the adoption of additional opportunities to engage in physical activity throughout the day.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and partners sent a letter in support of health and physical education being designated as core subjects and the Physical Education Program (PEP) grant being included in the US Senate’s Every Child Achieves Act.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, and the American Diabetes Association updated its policy position on physical education and physical activity in K-12 schools in 2015.

Federal Dietary and Physical Activity Guidelines Resources:

The ACS and ACS CAN appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Overall, we strongly support the conclusions and recommendations in the report. The following comments provide additional information on diet’s role in cancer and specific recommendations for those tasked with finalizing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).

ACS and ACS CAN are pleased to provide comments for the first time for the topics and scientific questions under consideration for the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

ACS CAN submitted comments to the World Health Organization on its Draft Global Action Plan on Physical Inactivity 2018-2030.

ACS and ACS CAN provided comments to the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee, a federal advisory committee charged with reviewing the science and making recommendations to inform the update of the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

ACS and ACS CAN provided oral comments to inform the work of the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee.

ACS and ACS CAN provided oral testimony to a National Academies study committee charged with reviewing the process to update the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

ACS and ACS CAN provided comments to a National Academies study committee on the process for selecting the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.  Our comments include recommendations for reducing conflicts of interest and including committee members with the appropriate expertise.

ACS CAN signed on to a letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee leadership asking them to pass H.R. 1499, the Physical Activity Recommendations for Americans Act.  The bill would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to publish updated science-based physical activity recommendations every ten years.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network provided comments to the General Services Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as it began the process to update its Health and Sustainability Guidelines for Concessions and Vending.

Funding for Research & Programs Resources:

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and partners sent a letter to National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins urging him to using money from the Common Fund to fund research on the mechanisms underlying the benefits of physical activity.

Nutrition Labeling Resources:

ACS CAN submitted comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on their proposed rule to delay the compliance date for the updated Nutrition Facts label by 18 months.

More than 40 organizations representing consumers, patients, and nutrition, public health, and health care professionals, including ACS CAN, signed on to a letter opposing any delay in implementation of menu labeling or changes to the requirements to make the information less accessible or useful

ACS CAN provided comments on FDA's interim final rule to delay implementation of menu labeling, opposing the proposed delay and any changes to the rule that would make it more difficult for consumers to access or use menu labeling in making healthy choices.

ACS CAN provided comments in response to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) request for information on the use of the term “healthy” on food labels.

ACS CAN supports updating the criteria for "healthy" to be consistent with current research and dietary guidance.  If defined appropriately, “healthy” can be a tool to help consumers identify choices that support long-term health, including reduced cancer risk. 

ACS CAN provided comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on a proposed rule to update the Nutrition Facts Label for meat and poultry.  

ACS CAN and more than 25 of our nutrition and public health partners sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price asking for his commitment to maintain the July 2018 compliance date for the updated Nutrition Facts label.

Studies show a strong link between poor nutrition, physical inactivity, excess weight, and cancer. That’s why the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) supports the timely implementation of new federal menu labeling requirements for restaurants and other food establishments.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and partners signed a statement in opposition to the "Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015", which would weaken the menu labeling requirements.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network provided comments on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s supplemental proposed rule revising the Nutrition Facts label.

Active Transportation and Recreation Resources:

Policies that support safe and accessible opportunities for active transportation and recreation, particularly walking and bicycling, are key to promoting physical activity, which helps prevent cancer, manage weight, and improve quality of life and health outcomes for cancer survivors.

Safe and accessible opportunities for walking, biking, and other forms of activities are key to promoting physical activity, helping to prevent cancer, and improving quality of life and survivorship for cancer survivors.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and partners sent a letter to members of the Senate asking them to cosponsor S. 705, the Transportation Alternatives Program Improvement Act.

Access to Obesity, Nutrition, and Physical Activity Services Resources:

Obesity is a significant risk factor for several cancers, so it is important for this risk factor to be identified and addressed in youth and adults.  This fact sheet outlines evidence-based obesity screening and management as well as ASC CAN's position on screening and management of obesity.

The American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network provided comments to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force on the Draft Research Plan for Weight Loss to Prevent Obesity-Related Morbidity and Mortality.

The American Cancer Society and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network provided comments on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Draft Research Plan: Screening for Obesity and Interventions for Weight Management in Children and Adolescents.

Food Marketing Resources:

For the majority of Americans who do not use tobacco, the most important behaviors to reduce cancer risk are maintaining a healthy weight, making healthy dietary choices, participating in regular physical activity, and limiting alcohol consumption.  What children eat today will impact their future cancer risk, and this fact sheet explains how the marketing of unhealthy food to youth contributes significantly to poor diet choices.

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network staff contributed to these Recommendations for Responsible Food Marketing to Children, which were developed by a group of experts convened by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Healthy Eating Research program.

Healthy Workplaces Resources:

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and partners, as part of the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA), provide model food and beverage vending machine standards.

Federal Nutrition Education and Assistance Programs Resources:

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network provided comments on the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed rule enhancing requirements for retail stores participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and partners sent a letter urging the Farm Bill conference committee to work in a bipartisan manner to protect and strengthen the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other nutrition programs.