Accelerating Food is Medicine:
Accelerating the growing attention, enthusiasm, and evidence surrounding FIM interventions in the U.S.
Every day in the U.S., our food system contributes more than 1,000 deaths and $3 billion in preventable healthcare spending and lost productivity. Nutrition insecurity—defined as a lack of consistent access, availability, and affordability of foods and beverages that promote well-being and prevent (and if needed, treat) disease—also disproportionately affects lower-income and rural populations, racial and ethnic minorities, and other groups impacted by systemic inequities.
Despite these persistent issues, healthcare systems have historically not had the practical tools to address and advance nutrition security in their patients. However, in recent years, compelling data have demonstrated the promise of “Food is Medicine” (FIM) approaches to address food and nutrition within the healthcare system. Among the most promising are produce prescriptions (Rx) and medically tailored meals (MTM), which each have been shown in a series of pilot studies and projects to improve nutrition, reduce chronic disease risk factors, and efficiently utilize healthcare resources.
These FIM interventions also build on several national trends, including:
- Growing awareness of the central role of food in general well-being,
- Accelerating consumer demand for, and corresponding industry shifts toward, healthier foods
- Continuing rise in healthcare spending for preventable diet-related conditions, and
- Growing recognition that systemic changes are needed to improve nutrition security and reduce diet-related diseases and disparities for all.
This two-year project will accelerate the growing attention, enthusiasm, and evidence surrounding FIM interventions in the U.S., with a focus on produce Rx programs and MTMs. The specific aims will also facilitate and catalyze new ways to address nutrition security, diet-related diseases, and their associated health, economic, and societal burdens.
Increase awareness of and advocate for FIM interventions, targeting healthcare systems, the media, and policy makers, that can improve nutrition security and increase health equity.
Collaborate with Kaiser Permanente on the design, implementation, and evaluation of FIM interventions to improve nutrition security and health equity among low-income adults with diet-sensitive chronic conditions, including those from traditionally marginalized racial/ethnic backgrounds.
Develop and implement national and California-specific polling to evaluate and report on public understanding and support of FIM interventions in healthcare, including among traditionally underrepresented racial/ethnic minority groups.
Senior Advisor to the Provost, Dean for Policy; Jean Mayer Professor of Nutrition, Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy, Tufts University
Julia Reedy Sharib
Senior Research Coordinator, Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy, Tufts University
Research Assistant Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy, Tufts University
Executive Administrative Coordinator, Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy, Tufts University
Kaiser Permanente Fund at East Bay Community Foundation
Mozaffarian D. Measuring and Addressing Nutrition Security to Achieve Health And Health Equity. Health Affairs Policy Brief; March 30, 2023.