The United States has appointed its first ever nutrition task force, the National Institute of Health announced in a press release Tuesday. The committee aims to lead an organized effort to direct research and explore the nutrition-related health problems that plague the U.S. 

Experts from various disciplines in nutrition and disease including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and normal development will make up the task force. They hope to guide nutrition research and develop a solid public plan to achieve goals for healthy lifestyles.

Most chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease are caused or amplified by poor nutrition, according to the World Health Organization. Though preventable, conditions like these are the most common diseases in the United States, reported the Harvard School of Public Health.

Nutrition plays a key role in preventing and treating such diseases. By eating well and practicing a healthy lifestyle, suffers can reduce symptoms and improve their overall health. In focusing on this, the task force could be able to drastically reduce suffering and cut the exorbitant costs of these diseases.

Chronic diseases are linked to a small number of lifestyle factors that include smoking, high blood pressure, overconsumption of salt and alcohol, and under consumption of fruits and vegetables. Most adults fall into one or more of these categories, reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ninety percent of people in the U.S. consume too much salt and 52 percent of adults in 2011 didn’t meet exercise recommendations.

When you look at the consequences of poor nutrition in terms of cost, the numbers are staggering. In 2012, the total cost of diabetes was $245 billion, the CDC reported. The economic cost of smoking was even higher, coming in at $289 billion. The visible consequences are no less shocking. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, leg amputations, and adult onset blindness.