Feeding America reports that 30 percent of seniors who rely on local food pantries say they sometimes must choose between paying for food and paying for medical care. As the infographic shows, older Americans without enough food to eat are at higher risk of developing serious health issues, including heart disease.
By Linda Shiue
originally posted in http://www.culinate.com/articles/features/medical_awareness_nutrition
July 30, 2013
While some medical students and doctors are becoming more savvy about nutrition, health, and cooking, the options for patients can still be generally summed up with the dismissive phrase “hospital food.” It’s not just the unpalatable Jell-O cups; nutrition is often ignored, too.
At the well-regarded academic medical center where I trained, my postpartum lunch tray included a plastic-wrapped, highly processed PB&J sandwich. And this type of offering is the norm. Vending machines in hospitals sell soda and candy, just as they do anywhere else, while hospitals that ban fast-food chains make headlines.
Over the past few years, however, a few hospitals have overhauled their food services to address both nutrition and taste. One of those is New Milford Hospital in Connecticut, which adopted a seasonal, plant-based menu (think portobello burgers and quinoa as entrées). The hospital also developed a program called Plow to Plate, connecting local farmers and fishermen with hospitals, physicians, chefs, and community members.
How they can help fix our health and food systems
At the National Farmers Union convention this spring, a roomful of farmers listened attentively to Marydale DeBor, who was pitching a new idea.
“I am looking for you to be doctors to the world,” she said. A board member of the New England Farmers Union and delegate to the convention, DeBor has a vision for food’s role in health care: “Food is Primary Care.” It’s the tagline for her consulting company, Fresh Advantage (www.freshadvantage.com), which works with institutions nationwide to create health-driven and mission-aligned food service operations.
Indeed, good nutrition can help address many of our nation’s health challenges. A root cause of our poor health is a food system gone wrong: ubiquitous processed food laden with excess salt, sugar and fat, along with inadequate access to healthy food for many. Poor diet contributes to public health problems of obesity and related chronic diseases – diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
We were glad to see this article in The Blade (In Toledo, hunger is a health issue) describing ProMedica’s efforts to address hunger issues—“food insecurity”—in Ohio. Although plenty of effort is correctly devoted to obesity in America, hunger and malnutrition are pervasive problems that profoundly affect health. In particular, the incidence of hunger among the elderly is on the rise. This issue is a long-standing concern at Fresh Advantage.
Fresh Advantage™ salutes Dr. Andrew Bremer, a pediatric endocrinologist and Professor Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, for standing up to MacDonald’s at its recent shareholder meeting and elucidating the link between fast food and the current epidemic of obesity and diabetes among children in the U.S.
In the September, 2011 “Food Issue” of THE NATION, Michael Pollan opined that our country’s industrial food system would not change until the health care sector (health professionals and institutions with which they are affiliated) and the health insurance industry became advocates for change—and politically active. Well, physicians are becoming active now in the private sector arena through the “Value the Meal” campaign underway by Corporate Accountability International.Read More
VIDEO & PODCAST LIBRARY
Recovery is Cooking
From Connecticut Mental Health Center
Plow to Plate
Before Fresh Advantage, Marydale co-founded Plow to Plate. Hear about their successes on All Things Connecticut
Prescribing Food, Part 1: Making Hospitals Healthier
From Heritage Radio Network
Women Addressing Food In Healthcare
From the Yale Sustainable Food Project Podcast