Online Program

"Food as Medicine": The importance of plant-based dietary recommendations for improving health outcomes in African American Communities

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 1:10 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Angela Odoms-Young, PhD, Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL

Terry Mason, M.D., FACS, Cook County Department of Public (CCDPH), Cook County Health and Hospitals System (CCHHS), Oak Forest, IL

Akua Woolbright, PhD, Whole Foods Market, Southfield, MI
  • Issues: The efficacy of consuming a plant-based, low fat diet in the prevention and clinical management of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers has been widely discussed in both the academic literature and popular media. Yet, the implications of using a “Food as Medicine” approach for improving population health and particularly addressing racial/socioeconomic disparities have not been explored.
  • Description: The proposed panel explores the potential of a plant-based diet for improving African American Health status in the United States. African Americans are disproportionately at risk for chronic disease compared to other racial/ethnic groups. The panel incorporates the perspective of African American public health professionals working in community, government, and academic settings; empirical research; and community member narratives to explore how a “Food as Medicine” approach can be a source of empowerment, social mobilization, and social support in low and middle-income, African American communities.  The proposed presentation challenges the traditional narrative that African Americans are “hard to reach”, resistant to change, and lack resilience when it comes to adhering to dietary recommendations. Additionally, the panelist will debate the applicability of federal dietary guidelines to address African American health needs and promote health equity.
  • Lessons Learned: This presentation provides evidence about the importance of advocacy for alternative approaches to traditional dietary narratives in communities of color.
  • Recommendations: Public health professionals should consider the implications of a “Food as Medicine” for improving health in their local communities. 

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the importance of plant-based diets for improving chronic disease risk in African Americans populations.

Keyword(s): African American, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Chief Operating officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health. I have been co-author of a paper regarding food recognition in low income areas. In additionI have participated and made presentations based on peer reviewed data regarding the relationship to foods and chronic disease.
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.