The food-as-medicine movement can improve economic health, environmental health, as well as patient well-being

During the panel “Resetting the Table to Ensure Equitable Access to Nourishing and Sustainable Food,” stakeholders from across the value chain shared how nutrition insecurity disproportionately impacts select communities and how strategic production, procurement and distribution of food as medicine can to address some of the structural challenges associated with inequitable access to nutrition, health and wealth building.

“The scale of the impact of poor nutrition on health is something that affects every American household today, and what we eat is not the No. 1 driver of poor health outcomes and death around the world, including in the United States,” where 140 million Americans suffer from obesity and diabetes rates have tripled in the past 30 years, Devon Klatel, vice president, nutrition initiative at the Rockefeller Foundation, told attendees.

But, she added, “the negative effects of a poor diet are not equally shared. A number of groups in this country are disproportionately affected, and that includes black Americans, Hispanics, indigenous peoples, Pacific Islanders, but also rural communities, veterans, low-income communities, and those particularly affected by food insecurity.

Disparities in impact are due in part to “availability due to various structural reasons, [with] healthy food often [costing] more than ultra-processed foods,” explained Kevin Volpe, director of the Penn Center for Health Promotion and Behavioral Economics.

“For many people, even if they want to eat more healthy food, they can’t afford it. And part of what we need to figure out is how to build evidence of what’s effective and what’s cost-effective, because ultimately we’re going to pay for that either up front or down the road in higher medical costs.” , he said.

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