Photo credit: Giuseppe Amoruso / EyeEm

Photo credit: Giuseppe Amoruso / EyeEm

The National Institutes of Health came out on top once again with an increase in federal funding for the rest of this fiscal year, but the completed spending bill made cuts in initiatives that support prevention.

The bill, signed into law on Friday by President Trump, bumped the NIH’s budget by $2 billion for the second consecutive year. The spending package also included several riders scrapping or stalling nutrition-based disease prevention strategies.

American Heart Association Chief Executive Nancy Brown said she was pleased with Congress’ commitment to NIH funding, but that we “cannot afford to let down our guard” about prevention just because of past progress.

Moving forward, “we need the dual weapons of research and prevention to wipe out the burden of [cardiovascular disease] for every generation,” she said.

Some of the changes of concern for advocacy groups, include:

– A $30 million cut in spending for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s heart and stroke program, and flat funding for Million Hearts and WISEWOMAN;

– Freezing sodium reduction for school meals at target one. Target one is currently in effect and more than 99 percent of schools is meeting the goal. Subsequent targets are no longer planned and funding for work toward those goals is now prohibited;

– Tying the Food and Drug Administration’s 2016 voluntary targets to reduce sodium for all food products to an update of the Dietary Reference Intake. An update is not likely to be completed for a couple of years. “While the American Heart Association welcomes a DRI update, waiting to release the voluntary sodium targets on a DRI update that would likely not be complete for a couple of years is an unnecessary delay,” said Brown.

– And allotting just $400 million of the previously authorized level of $1.65 billion under the “Every Student Succeeds Act” for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment program. This new block grant program, under which physical education is eligible, helps fund “well-rounded education” for students.