A “Food Is Medicine” Approach to Disease Prevention

11/30/2023 – During the past 5 years, “food is medicine”—the provision of free, nutritious food through the health care system—has received an astounding amount of intellectual attention and financial investment.1 Food is medicine was a key initiative in the 2022 National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, and 2 states have launched coalitions to sustainably fund these programs. The Rockefeller Foundation, National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute have announced more than $350 million in food is medicine research funding. Expert commentaries on the promise of food is medicine for preventing and treating chronic diseases have been published in leading scientific journals, and major research institutions have established food is medicine initiatives. It is well established that there is value in offering food at no cost to people who need it. But the medical and public health communities’ enthusiasm for food is medicine seems unjustified by its likely benefit.


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