Food is Medicine: Integrating Food Programs into Health Care
The link between obesity and debilitating chronic illness is well-established, but access to healthy food remains problematic for many suffering from chronic illness. Healthy food is a key care component in handling an individual's overall health, especially when managing diabetes. For these individuals, food is medicine. Low income populations often bear a disproportionate burden of chronic disease. There are significant benefits to be realized by incorporating healthy food in a medical treatment plan, both in terms of improved health outcomes and significant cost savings to insurers. This Web Forum will address:
• the definition of “food is medicine” and the need for a strong movement to integrate food into routine health care delivery;
• the growing body of research that demonstrates the link between malnutrition and diet-related disease and the efficacy of low-cost nutrition interventions for health outcomes;
• current and future opportunities to incorporate healthy food into medical treatment plans, enabling greater access to good nutrition for people who have a particular need for this support; the potential of the Affordable Care Act to encourage integration of food into whole person health care; and
• ways to make customized dietary plans a reimbursable and sustainable part of treatment, whether it responds to acute health care needs or is part of a plan for patient lifestyle change.
We invite hospital administrators, insurers, providers who focus on diet-related chronic disease, diabetes advocates, community health workers, legislators and state agency personnel to join us for a discussion on how incorporating food-based interventions into health care can improve patient outcomes while dramatically reducing public and private insurer cost.
Sarah Downer, JD, Senior Clinical Fellow, Health and Food Law and Policy Clinics, Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, Harvard Law School
Maggie J. Morgan, JD, MA, Health Law and Policy Fellow, Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, Harvard Law School
Sponsored by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, the National Network of Public Health Institutes, and the Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation