Why doctors are writing prescriptions for food

Evidence suggests that healthy diets may be effective in helping control and reduce chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. But eating healthy can be a struggle, particularly for people who have low incomes. That’s why some doctors are directing patients to programs like the Fresh Food Farmacy in Pennsylvania, which provides healthy foods, nutrition education, and health screenings.

Eric Rimm, professor in the Departments of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, spoke to Time for a February 21, 2019 article about this and other efforts promoting food as medicine.

“It’s clear that people who are coached on how to eat a Mediterranean diet high in nuts or olive oil get more benefit than we’ve found in similarly conducted trials of statins [to lower cholesterol],” he said. But he also observed that prescribing food is more complex than prescribing medications. “It’s a lot cheaper to put someone on three months of statins [to lower their cholesterol] than to figure out how to get them to eat a healthy diet,” he said.

Read the Time article: Why Food Could Be the Best Medicine of All

Learn more

Following five healthy lifestyle habits may increase life expectancy by decade or more (Harvard Chan School press release)