Nutrition plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health and well-being. A study from The Lancet revealed that poor diet is responsible for one in five deaths globally, contributing to a variety of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

Unfortunately, individuals with lower incomes, those residing in rural areas, and historically marginalized groups are disproportionately affected by poor nutrition. By incorporating food and nutrition interventions into a patient’s treatment plan, there is potential to enhance health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.

There has been a major shift in funding for this important research endeavor. The Food is Medicine Institute at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, is a recently formed institute dedicated to integrating food-based nutrition interventions into healthcare in order to effectively treat diseases and promote health equity. They advocate for the implementation of food-based solutions to combat illness, such as produce prescriptions and providing nutrition education to healthcare providers.  

Another organization tackling this area of study is the American Heart Association (AHA) Health Care by Food™ initiative.  Which is “building the evidence needed to show clinical and cost effectiveness so patients with acute or chronic disease or with risk factors for disease can access cost-effective food is medicine programs as a covered benefit through public and private health insurance.” 

Below are some examples of the ongoing clinical trials:

Food as Medicine for HIV: A Randomized Trial of Medically Tailored Meals and Lifestyle Intervention

  • Weekly home meal delivery; an explanation of the medical tailoring of the meals
  • Behavioral: 20-session telephone lifestyle intervention change program
  • Measured outcomes: bodyweight, hemoglobin A1c, health-Related quality of life score, depression symptoms, diabetes distress score, etc.

Healthy Families Clinic and Teaching Kitchen Program

  • Weekly family food packages
  • Families receive weekly family food packages for 6 months
  • Behavioral: family health group sessions
  • Measured outcomes: BMI, food security status, diet quality, BP, sleep, etc.

Preparing a Food Is Medicine Intervention to Promote Healthy Eating and Blood Pressure Control in Black Women With Hypertension and Obesity

  • Groups of 10 will attend a 12 week intervention that includes cooking classes, grocery delivery and nutrition education.
  • Behavioral: The RN-CHeFRx trial to enhance dietary intake and blood pressure control in Black women with hypertension and obesity compared to usual care.
  • Measured outcomes: completions, BP, weight, dietary intake, etc

Inadequate nutrition poses a significant risk for disease. By emphasizing food-based interventions and nutrition education, we can strive towards a healthier and more equitable future for all individuals. It is imperative that the public understands the profound impact of diet on both disease prevention and the aging process, as our nutritional requirements evolve with age. The advancement of this crucial initiative and ongoing research holds promise for the development of food and nutrition interventions that could be integrated into patient treatment plans, resulting in enhanced health outcomes and reduced healthcare costs.

Below are some of the numerous nutrition-based guidelines that may be subject to modification in light of the findings from these clinical trials:

Exercise, Rehabilitation, Diet, and Additional Integrative Interventions for Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • American College of Rheumatology
  • Publication: May 25, 2023

Nutrition and Physical Activity: General Population

  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Publication: March 10, 2023

Exercise, Diet, and Weight Management During Cancer Treatment

  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Publication: May 16, 2022

Chronic Kidney Disease Evidence-Based Nutrition

  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Publication: August 26, 2020

Diet and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention

  • American Cancer Society
  • Publication: June 01, 2020

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Nutrition Management

  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Publication: February 18, 2020

Guidance for Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

  • International Organization for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
  • Publication: February 14, 2020

Do you believe that these nutrition-based trials will have an impact on any of the aforementioned guidelines? Please share your thoughts with us! We look forward to discussing this further in our next installment. Sign up for alerts and stay informed on the latest published guidelines and articles.

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