Online Program

Food as medicine: Medical nutrition therapy can improve health outcomes for people with critical and chronic disease

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 12:30 p.m. - 12:45 p.m.

Daniel Cohn, Bachelor’s degree in Health, Behavior & Society, Congressional Hunger Center, Washington, DC
David Waters, MA, Community Servings, Jamaica Plain, MA
Public health literature indicates that proper nutrition can improve health outcomes for a variety of conditions including HIV/AIDS. However, it can be difficult for people living with HIV/AIDS and other critical and chronic diseases to access healthy food for many reasons, including poverty and insufficient community resources. Community Servings, a non-profit in Boston, MA, seeks to break the cycle of inadequate nutrition and poor health by providing comprehensive medical nutrition therapy (home-delivered meals, nutrition assessments, counseling and education) to chronically ill patients, including PLWHA. Our research study used a two-fold, mixed-methods design to evaluate the impact of Community Servings' home-delivered meals program from the point-of-view of healthcare workers (physicians, nurse practitioners, case managers) who referred clients to the program in the past year. Data were collected through 14 semi-structured qualitative interviews and 69 surveys. Analysis of survey data revealed 4 predominant themes including the provision of nutritious food to: (a) improve psychosocial well-being; (b) promote healthy weight; (c) provide high-quality, holistic care; and (d) improve adherence to medications and treatments. Analysis of survey data indicate that healthcare workers believe Community Servings' home-delivered meals program: (a) improves clients' health; (b) reduces clients' risk of hospitalization; (c) promotes clients' food security; and (d) improves clients' knowledge of good nutrition. Findings indicate the need for further research in this field, potential expansion of health insurance programs to cover comprehensive medical nutrition therapy, and collaboration among food and nutrition organizations to collect and share data regarding clients' health, food security, and hospitalization rates.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention

Learning Objectives:
Describe healthcare workers’ perceptions of the impact of a medically tailored, home-delivered meals program in the lives of people with critical and chronic diseases, including HIV/AIDS. Discuss recommendations among researchers and service organizations to bring awareness to the potential health impacts of medically tailored, home-delivered meals program for people with critical and chronic diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

Keyword(s): Food and Nutrition, HIV/AIDS

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the CEO of Community Servings, a food and nutrition nonprofit providing services throughout Massachusetts to individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS and other critical illnesses. During my tenure, I've doubled the number of people served to 1,300 annually and facilitated multiple federal and state contracts for the provision of medical nutrition therapy to the PLWHA. Community Servings is the recipient of the Congressional Hunger Award for outstanding success in hunger and nutrition issues.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.