Few people in the U.S. eat a healthy diet. This can cause chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, and high healthcare costs. Diet-related diseases especially harm low-income households, racial/ethnic minorities, and the elderly, revealing deep inequities and systemic racism in the U.S. economy, food systems, and healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic highlights food insecurity, diet-related illnesses, and lack of nutrition to prevent illness. This suggests that it may help to provide incentives for healthier eating through the healthcare system. “Food as medicine” programs are rapidly gaining popularity in healthcare systems. These programs can improve diet-related health. Examples include prescriptions for produce (Produce-Rx) and medically-tailored meals (MTMs). Produce-Rx offer free or discounted fruits and vegetables to patients based on eligibility, while MTMs provide nutritionally tailored meals delivered to outpatients with severe chronic conditions. Such programs may be low-cost ways to improve nutrition, food security, health, and quality of life. More research needs to be done in this area.
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