Food as Medicine (Part 2)
Hunger in America
Food insecurity in the United States has been an ongoing issue, and there is a high chance of insufficient accessibility being a precursor to negative health outcomes. Among 7.9 billion universally, 770 million faced hunger in 2020 and of the 330 million people in the United States, 38.3 million individuals were food insecure in 2020, meaning 1 in 8 Americans face hunger every day including children. Low- income population with food insecurity has worsened in the past two decades as well as an increase in the length of hospital stays with exacerbation of illness due to inadequate nutrition. Understanding how food insecurity correlates to adverse health outcomes and higher health care cost is critical to prevent lifelong chronic diseases.
Food Deserts and Healthcare Costs
Many Americans suffer from food deserts – an environment with limited access to healthy, nutritious food. Moreover, an obesogenic environment exposes such populations to fast food outlets and unhealthy food options. Compared to adults in food-secure households, adults with very low food security are at least 40 percent likelier to be diagnosed with a chronic condition, such as hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease, or stroke. With increased food insecurity, there is greater use of health care services, such as visits to the emergency room (≥50%), admission to the hospital, and increased length of stays in the hospital. Individuals with food insecurity are more prone to higher healthcare spending. One study found that food-insecure households spend 45 percent more on medical costs in a year ($6,100) than food-secure households ($4,200). Food insecurity not only relates to lack of nutrition but results in further complications to acute/chronic health status.
Nutrition and Chronic Disease
Reducing food insecurity by providing adequate, appropriate nutrient intake improves and prevents malnutrition, obesity, and other health comorbidities. Supporting along with medically tailored meals will aid people in what and how to eat for their health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, or kidney diseases. People with chronic conditions who had received home-delivered meal services experienced reduced hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and shortened length of stay in the hospital.
How can we help?
We aim to prevent and alleviate diet-related disease/illness among the vulnerable populations who are food-insecure and provide increased accessibility to healthier foods and reduce healthcare costs.
Nutrition for Longevity and N4L Health provide ready-prepared Medically Tailored Meals to our clients nationwide at 100 % payer coverage. If you are a patient or healthcare provider looking for how to best incorporate medically tailored meals into your or your patient’s lives, please visit us at www.n4lhealth.com
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- Hunger Facts | Move For Hunger. moveforhunger.org. Accessed July 3, 2023. https://moveforhunger.org/hunger-facts?gclid=CjwKCAjw44mlBhAQEiwAqP3eVtIKFM5nWZfxwFDCFF8r9AuDx0nUmCfPgwMpCPy3Gmkya_LPRi8PKRoCMUEQAvD_BwE
- Laraia BA. Food Insecurity and Chronic Disease. Advances in Nutrition. 2013;4(2):203-212. doi:https://doi.org/10.3945/an.112.003277
- Food-Insecure Households Likelier to Have Chronic Diseases, Higher Health Costs. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Published January 22, 2018. https://www.cbpp.org/blog/food-insecure-households-likelier-to-have-chronic-diseases-higher-health-costs
- Food Insecurity and Chronic Disease. The Institute for Functional Medicine. https://www.ifm.org/news-insights/food-insecurity-chronic-disease/