How U.S. Conservatives Perceive and Respond to International Nutrition Issues, and How to Shape Messaging for Successful Advocacy


  • Jennifer Eaton Dyer Vanderbilt University
  • Brian Lloyd Heuser Vanderbilt University



global nutrition, national security, conservatives, advocacy, policy, first 1000 days, nutrition, international aid


Since 1990, epic strides have been made in global health and development toward achieving Millennium Development Goals. With a united front of forces, including governments, coalitions, private sector, foundations, philanthropic organizations, and the faith community, millions of lives have been saved from extreme poverty and disease. Yet, some issues enjoy more robust funding and notoriety than others.  For instance, AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria enjoy the majority of the U.S. foreign assistance funding in global health. Nutrition, notably, has remained stagnant for decades. We wanted to test the appetite for increased funding for international nutrition and food security issues among Political, Religious, Social Conservatives (PRSCs), and the General Population (GP) to gauge perception and response to the issue and its correlates. Our goal with these national surveys was to understand the best choice of language to promote awareness, education, and prompt advocacy for global nutrition and food security issues. With this research, we found that conservatives were motivated by national security issues first and foremost, not their faith, finances or moral foundation. We recommend that education be enhanced among conservatives regarding U.S. foreign assistance, nutrition funding and implementation, and nutrition-related terminology, including stunting, wasting, and anemia. Moreover, we recommend strong narratives about mothers, children, and infants, particularly a child’s first 1,000 days, from conception to two years, which has proved to elicit the most positive response among all messaging.

Author Biographies

Jennifer Eaton Dyer, Vanderbilt University

PhD, Lecturer, Vanderbilt University for Global Health; CEO/Executive Director, Hope Through Healing Hands, USA

Brian Lloyd Heuser, Vanderbilt University

Ed.D., M.T.S.

Associate Professor of the Practice of International Education PolicyDepartment of Leadership, Policy and Organizations, and Faculty Director of the Ingram Scholarship Program, Vanderbilt University.  

International Leadership & Development Major Track Director, Peabody College of Education and Human Development

Affiliated Faculty, Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health

Immediate Past Vice-Chair, Vanderbilt Faculty Senate




How to Cite

Dyer, J. E., & Heuser, B. L. (2018). How U.S. Conservatives Perceive and Respond to International Nutrition Issues, and How to Shape Messaging for Successful Advocacy. Christian Journal for Global Health, 5(1), 32–43.