Make “food is medicine” an essential part of the White House nutrition meeting

MMany of the public’s perceptions of food as an intervention for health are outdated. So are the perceptions and policies of the US government’s health care. Not in years, but decades.

The last time the nation focused on food – from the top – was 1969 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health. Among the important programs created or improved based on results from That historic summit is what is called today the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP); Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program; school breakfast and lunch programs; National approach to developing dietary guidelines; The nutrition facts label is everywhere now.

Without a doubt, these programs have fed those in need, saved lives, and improved the overall health of Americans. But we are facing a new reality in the 21st century: poor diets are The main cause of deathThis contributes to high rates of heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer. About 50% of adults in the United States have diabetes or prediabetes, 75% are overweight or obese, and more than 90% are not in optimal heart metabolism health. Among American teens, 25% have diabetes or prediabetes, and the same percentage are overweight or obese.


Most affected are low-income Americans, people who live in rural areas, and individuals from historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups.

Chronic diseases harm not only people’s health, but the economy as well. Spending on health care escalate From 5% as a share of GDP in 1960 to nearly 18% in 2020 – and malnutrition must bear some of the blame.


It is time to realize that better nutrition and access to healthy foods can help prevent and treat critical and chronic diseases, improve health equity, and save money.

As experts in medicine, nutrition, public health, and community intervention to improve food and nutrition security, we are pleased with President Biden’s recent announcement that it is time for a second. White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Healthscheduled for Wednesday, September 28. It provides a historic opportunity to catalyze “food is medicine” interventions – bringing food to the fore in addressing the country’s health crisis.

In the 53 years since the last White House conference, and especially during the past decade, providers, clinicians, nonprofit organizations, and academics have explored a number of nutritional interventions and programs in health care. One of them is Clinically Designed Meal Programs, an approach that one of us (DBW) has been advancing for more than three decades. It involves providing people with serious and complex illnesses with fully prepared meals designed just for them. Another food is the intervention of medicine Prescription productionwhere medical providers can issue vouchers, discount cards or referrals to meal services so that their patients can get fresh fruits and vegetables.

These and other strategies represent real innovation in tackling food and nutrition insecurity. For the first time, the health care system – one sector bigger From the American economy – is fighting the battle not only to get people’s calories but also to ensure that citizens’ diets are rich in nutritious foods to promote well-being, prevent disease and even cure disease.

These programs are effective. Clinically Designed Meals Reduce inpatient hospital admission by half and emergency department visits by about two-thirds among patients and those on low incomes—improving their lives and saving money overall, even taking into account the cost of programs. Prescription production makes it easier for broader groups of individuals and families to improve their diets. Prescription program for national products It could save $40 billion in healthcare costs and prevent nearly two million heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular diseases over the lifetime of current American adults.

A number of proposals are already on the White House conference table, including calls to update Medicare and Medicaid to include medically tailored meals and other interventions as covered benefits, and require more nutrition education for health care providers. American medical schools, for example, dedicate their efforts to nutrition education which is shockingly unfortunate 1% of the total lecture hoursalthough primary care and other clinicians serve as go-to resources for patients seeking guidance about diet and food.

At the very least, the conference should support the ongoing study of food and drug programs. For example, thanks to recent funding from the National Institutes of Health, community services, where one of us (DBW) is CEO, and Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, where one of us (DM) is Dean, along with UMass Chan School of Medicine, will evaluate the effects of clinically designed meals. This research, Medicare trial programs like those inserted by US Rep. Jim McGovern (Democrat from MAS), necessary to get more ideas on how to best disseminate clinically designed meal programs to those who need them.

Unfortunately, access to food for drug programs is currently limited to a small number of Americans through demonstration projects by private payers in a few states. So most Americans who can benefit from medically designed meals and produce recipes can’t get them.

If the nutrition is displayed As a social driver of health, more should be done to increase access to these programmes.

The United States is at a defining moment in the fight against hunger, food insecurity and diet-related disease. Good nutrition for all Americans is no longer just a theoretical “nice thing.” It’s achievable must have To increase welfare, cure disease, improve the lives of the seriously ill, promote health equity, and reduce the ever-increasing health care costs bankrupting the nation.

The health care system should be a central asset in driving the fight for more medically designed meals and the production of prescription programs, as well as more robust nutritional education for physicians and appropriate insurance coverage for counseling by registered dietitians.

The Biden administration, congressional leaders, and all stakeholders gathered at the White House Nutrition Conference must recognize and advance these interventions as vital tools to save lives.

Dariush Mozaffarian is a cardiologist, professor, and dean of policy at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutritional Science and Policy, and co-chair of the Task Force on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, an independent group created to help inform the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. David B. Waters is the CEO of Community Servings, a Boston-based nonprofit that provides medically tailored meals and nutrition services. Mozaffarian reported research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Vail Innovative Global Research, and Kaiser Permanente; He has advised Acasti Pharma, Barilla, Beren Therapeutics, Brightseed, Calibrate, Danone, Day Two, Discern Dx, Elysium Health, Filtricine, HumanCo, Motif FoodWorks, and January Inc. , Perfect Day, Season Health, Tiny Organics, and owns stock in Calibrate and HumanCo.

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