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Opponents of latest AR state tax cuts say they benefit wealthy Arkansans; Julian Assange agrees to a plea deal that would allow him to avoid imprisonment in US; Tech-based carbon-capture projects make headway in local government; NV nonprofit calls Biden's student debt initiatives economic justice.

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Charges against fake electors in Nevada are dismissed, Milwaukee officials get ready to expect the unexpected at the RNC convention, and the Justice Department says Alaska is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

Breaking barriers for health equity with nutritional strategies

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Monday, April 29, 2024   

Missouri residents are gaining new insights into the powerful role of food in health care as experts and organizations advocate for a shift toward food-as-medicine initiatives.

Kelsey Gardiner, assistant professor of nursing and health studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, emphasized the critical link between access to healthy food and improved health outcomes. She noted individuals facing food insecurity often experience higher rates of chronic diseases, highlighting the urgent need for systemic changes to enhance food access.

"There are things we can do and there are certain shifts nationally that are happening, whether that be through policy or through infrastructure changes," Gardiner pointed out. "We can be doing more in the state of Missouri in order to help increase access to healthy food that can directly tie into better health outcomes."

Gardiner underscored the potential of food-as-medicine interventions in preventing chronic conditions and reducing health care costs. She said recent studies show such interventions can lead to $13.6 billion over one year in cost savings and several improved health outcomes, making them a valuable addition to health care strategies.

Kael Martin, people impact strategist for the Health Forward Foundation, said focusing on communities affected by structural racism, socioeconomic challenges and limited health care access is paramount. Food as medicine is seen as a strategic approach to promote health equity, particularly in areas where systemic barriers hinder optimal health.

"We know that eating healthy can prevent chronic disease, but it can be a treatment option as well," Martin stressed. "To have that connection within our health care system, to really integrate these interventions, can be really impactful for many patients."

While progress is underway nationally and in other states such as Massachusetts, California and North Carolina, Missouri is still developing its approach to integrate food as medicine into health care systems and policies. Efforts to push for legislation supporting these initiatives are in progress, with some federal legislation around medically tailored meals garnering support.

Disclosure: The Health Forward Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, and Housing/Homelessness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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