Food as Medicine: A Promising Future for Healthcare


In recent years, the concept of “food as medicine” has gained a lot of attention in the healthcare industry. This movement emphasizes the use of healthy food as a medical intervention for certain chronic and diet-related diseases. Multiple federal agencies, major organizations, and startups have pledged millions in research funding and investment to advance this cause, and even the White House has publicly announced its support for the movement.

The idea behind the Food-as-Medicine movement is that what we eat can have a profound impact on our health, and that by providing people with healthy food options, we can treat and even prevent certain conditions. This movement recognizes that food insecurity and hunger can contribute to poor health outcomes, and that improving access to healthy food can be an important step in addressing these issues.

Many groups working in the field highlight three specific interventions as clear embodiments of this idea: medically-tailored meals, medically-tailored groceries, and produce prescriptions. Medically-tailored meals are dietician-designed meals tailored to the specific nutritional needs of people with certain conditions. Medically-tailored groceries provide meal boxes with specific items meant to support the nutritional needs of people with certain conditions. Produce prescriptions offer vouchers for unprepared fruits and vegetables, enabling people to access fresh produce that they may not be able to afford otherwise.

Studies have shown that these interventions can have a significant impact on healthcare outcomes. For example, a study of 100 patients dually enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid found that those who received medically-tailored meals had 70% fewer emergency room visits and 52% fewer hospital inpatient admissions than those who did not receive the meals. Another study of 1,000 adults found that those who received medically-tailored meals had 49% fewer inpatient admissions and 72% fewer admissions to skilled nursing facilities than those who did not receive the meals.

Despite the promising results of these interventions, Medicare is currently barred by law from covering food. However, there are efforts underway to change this, as well as to expand access to food-as-medicine programs more broadly.

The food as medicine movement represents a promising future for healthcare by offering a new approach to preventing and treating chronic and diet-related diseases. At Vianova, we have long recognized the importance of food as medicine, as is reflected in our 4M philosophy – that the 4 cornerstones of health are Meals, Medication, Monitoring, and Movement. By recognizing the impact of nutrition on our health and improving access to healthy food options, we can improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.



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