Diet is the number one risk factor for deaths in the United States. Members of marginalized and impoverished communities particularly struggle to afford nutritious food. Poor diets result in health disparities along socio-economic, age, racial, ethnic, indigenous, rural, and urban lines. Despite the ever-growing social and financial burden of diet-related chronic diseases, the U.S. has failed to invest in health care-related dietary policy. This Article proposes produce prescriptions as a national dietary preventive medicine program through Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Recently, nonprofits, governments, and health care providers have designed innovative produce prescription programs to combat diet-related chronic diseases. In these programs, clinical providers can prescribe subsidized fruit and vegetables to patients. Produce prescriptions empower patients by making dietary change affordable and by motivating patients to improve their health. Numerous studies, pilot projects, and local programs demonstrate that produce prescriptions can improve health care outcomes for individuals from diverse communities. Most at-risk members of our society receive health coverage through Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP. This Article analyzes how to scale up produce prescriptions within these programs using law and policy.
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