Abbott's Healthy Food Rx, a “food as medicine program” that provides medical prescriptions of healthy food to help address diabetes, was proven to be clinically effective in improving the health of people with diabetes in a study conducted by Public Health Institute (PHI). The real-world study, which was conducted over a 12-month period, found that Healthy Food Rx helped people lower their AlC levels and better self-manage their diabetes, and improved their overall diet quality and food security.
Results of the local Stockton / San Joaquin Healthy Food Rx program proved the success of this important program. Local numbers show an .8 drop in A1C (better than the .5 benchmark), a 30% improvement in diabetic management, and a 10% improvement in food security. The Emergency Stockton Food Bank was a key partner in providing healthy diabetic-focused foods with the help of Abbott Fund and others to those in the study.
"The future of Stockton depends on the health of the people who live here, and that's why it's so exciting to see the Healthy Food Rx program is helping our neighbors with diabetes to live healthier," said Kevin Lincoln, Mayor of Stockton. "Change happens through genuine partnership. I'd like to congratulate and thank our local Stockton institutions Community Medical Centers and the Emergency Food Bank, along with Abbott and PHI, for demonstrating the importance of listening, collaborating and building new solutions to tackle the challenges of diabetes."
"Nutritious food is critical for managing diabetes and staying healthy," said Dr. Leonard Hansen, Ph.D., CEO, Emergency Food Bank of Stockton/San Joaquin County. "Healthy Food Rx demonstrates how delivering healthy food and educational support can help improve health and build food security for the people who need it most."
In 2021, Abbott and its foundation the Abbott Fund launched the Healthy Food Rx program in Stockton, Calif., where 60% of the population has diabetes or pre-diabetes. The program, part of the company's broader Future Well Communities initiative, brings together Stockton-based organizations to help individuals living with diabetes and pre-diabetes by delivering free recipe based food boxes to approximately 450 participants' homes and providing hands-on education about managing their diabetes through nutrition. PHI's study showed the program had the following impact:
- Decreased A1.C levels: AlC is a test that reflects average glucose levels for the past three months?. Higher Ale levels, a symptom of uncontrolled diabetes, lead to higher risk for diabetes complications including cardiovascular disease, blindness or limb amputation. During this study, participants with uncontrolled diabetes saw their AlC levels decrease by 0.80%. This exceeds the widely accepted 0.5% benchmark that is considered a clinically significant change and leads to improved health outcomes in people with diabetes•
- Improved diabetes self-management: The number of participants who rated their ability to self-manage their diabetes grew significantly through the program.
- 88% of participants reported they follow their meal plan (compared to 58% before- enrolling in Healthy Food Rx)
- 78% reported more physical activity (compared to 61%)
- 43% now talk with mentors and friends about diabetes management and healthy living (compared to 12%).
- Improved diet quality: Participants also shared that the program taught them to include healthier foods in their diet. and participants' average fruit and vegetable and consumption increased significantly.
- Improved food security: At the start of the program, 34% of participants were food secure. During the program food security increased significantly to 44%
Healthy Food Rx is one of the largest “food as medicine programs” for people with diabetes in the country, having reached more than 450 participants to date. Based on initial results, Abbott and the Abbott Fund are working with partners to expand the program to reach an additiona1 1,000 people by the end of the year.
"Healthy Food Rx is a strong example of how working side-by-side with communities can break down barriers and allow people to live a healthier life," said Melissa Brotz, president of the Abbott Fund and vice president of Global Marketing and External Affairs at Abbott. "We know that Healthy Food Rx is making a meaningful difference for people with diabetes, and their families are benefiting from the nutritious meals and discussions on healthy eating as well. We look forward to growing this positive impact even further as we expand the program."
"Chronic conditions like diabetes are growing in diverse communities around the country, especially where social drivers of health, like access to healthy food, are undermining people's ability to be healthy and thrive," PHI President and CEO Mary Pittman said. "We're encouraged by the positive results of Healthy Food Rx, and how this can help advance both the future success of the program and other food as medicine initiatives nationwide." '
How Healthy Food Rx Works
The Healthy Food Rx program is part of Abbott's Future Well Communities, which is a multi year initiative aimed to advance health access and equity by removing the barriers that prevent people with diabetes from living healthy lives. Abbott partnered with PHI and Stockton-based organizations to create Healthy Food Rx, with funding support from Abbott's foundation the Abbott Fund. Community Medical Centers, a local federally qualified health center in Stockton, identified potential Healthy Food Rx participants. Program participants received a food box from the Emergency Food Bank Stockton/San Joaquin (EFB) delivered directly to their home. Boxes were delivered every other week for 12 months, including ingredients for a culturally tailored family-sized healthy meal and pantry staples such as beans, rice, produce and nuts. The box also contained a recipe card and link to an optional online cooking class with EFB, which provided additional guidance and diabetes education.
"Successfully managing diabetes is complicated and often requires a number of patient connections and behavior changes," said Christine Noguera, CEO, Community Medical Centers. "The results of the Healthy Food Rx study demonstrate how powerful regular access to healthy food and education can be for people with diabetes on their health journey. We were proud to participate in this important research, monitoring the care of participants along the way."
All participants were invited to participate in the research study coordinated by PHI, which included surveys at enrollment and at six and 12 months, in addition to capturing lab-verified glycated hemoglobin Al.C values from medical records.
About Abbott and the Abbott Fund
Abbott is a global healthcare leader that helps people live more fully at all stages of life. Their portfolio of life-changing technologies spans the spectrum of healthcare, with leading businesses and products in diagnostics, medical devices, nutritionals and branded generic medicines. Their 115,000 colleagues serve people in more than 160 countries.
The Abbott Fund is a philanthropic foundation established by Abbott in 1951. The Abbott Fund's mission is to create healthier global communities by investing in creative ideas that promote science, expand access to healthcare and strengthen communities worldwide.
How To Participate in Healthy Food Rx
To participate in the Healthy Food Rx program, you can contact Community Medical Centers or Stockton Food Bank at (209) 464-7369 M-F 8am to 3pm.