- Alberto Noronha
Food prescription programs
We often hear or read the term "food as medicine". While I am not sure how much I agree with this definition, it is undeniable that diet plays a significant role in our health. In particular, adopting healthier lifestyles is important to prevent, treat, and even cure certain diseases. So if food can be medicine should it be prescribed?
Food prescription programs are relatively common in the US. As the name indicates, these programs are prescriptions of healthy foods, typically fruits and vegetables with a special focus on low-income populations and/or subjected to high food insecurity [1, 2]. While the data is somewhat limited, these programs seem to have the potential to support the treatment and prevention of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes [3, 4].
Advocates for these programs also highlight the potential savings in healthcare that they could represent. A study published in 2019 claims that food prescription programs could help save up to 40 billion dollars if broadly applied . While this work is based on a projection, the benefits of incentivizing the purchase of healthy foods go beyond better health outcomes and positively impact spendings of the healthcare system.
In a recent post, I highlighted the influence of the food environment on the obesity epidemic. Following a healthy diet is about making the right choice but also, and perhaps more importantly, a question of adherence. These programs create a financial incentive for adherence to a healthier diet. This is a good example that creating the tools (and regulations) to help the population navigate the food environment can improve health outcomes.
With Nutrida we want to be part of this solution by helping individuals and their families adopting healthier lifestyles through convenient metbolic health monitoring and individualized healthy food choices. This solution can be integrated with the healthcare environment but more on that in future posts.