Topical Area: Community and Public Health Nutrition
Objectives : The aims of this study were to develop and implement a “Food as Medicine” intervention using quantitative methods supported by health literacy and food choice and behavioral models to target chronic diseases under free-living conditions in adults diagnosed with chronic diseases. The hypothesis of this study is that “Food as Medicine” nutrition and lifestyle intervention sessions will result in significant improvements in food choices, as well as shopping and cooking behaviors.
The Food as Medicine (FAM) study is a community-based pilot study that measured the effectiveness of a nutrition intervention to improve chronic disease risk factors and outcomes among African Americans with either pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, elevated total blood cholesterol levels, obesity or a combination of these disorders. The study enrolled patients who were attending both Howard University Family Medicine and Internal Medicine Practices, and were residents of wards seven or eight in the District of Columbia. Fifty-four participants were enrolled and assigned to five cohorts, which consisted of five group sessions over three months, and focused on improving diet and health literacy through nutritionist-led, culturally-tailored, nutrition education classes that included health literacy, mindfulness exercises, and cooking demonstrations.
After program completion, FAM participants demonstrated significant improvements in all outcome measures of interest: healthy dietary patterns (p< .001), healthful eating (p=.002), positive changes in dietary choices (p< .001), cooking confidence (p< .001), reduction of cooking barriers (p< .001), and healthy food preparation (p< .001). Participants also increased the number of times in one week that they cooked dinner at home (p< .001).
Conclusions : This study demonstrated the positive impacts of including health literacy, mindfulness exercises, and cooking demonstrations in a nutrition education program. The outcomes of this study can be used to inform and improve future community intervention studies within the areas of chronic disease in low income and minority populations.
Funding Sources : Funding for this study was received from the Ardmore Institute of Health
Howard University College of Medicine