Medically tailored meal programs linked to fewer hospital stays, lower costs

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Published: July, 2019

As we've reported before, free medically tailored meals are making a big difference for older adults who have chronic illness or are recovering from a hospital stay. The meals are provided by nonprofit agencies and are customized to your dietary needs — like a potassium-controlled diet if you have kidney disease, or a diet low in vitamin K if you're taking a blood thinner. Now an observational study published online April 22, 2019, by JAMA Network Open suggests that taking part in a free medically tailored meal program is linked to fewer admissions to hospitals and nursing homes, as well as lower medical costs. Researchers looked at about 1,000 adults with health problems such as cancer or diabetes. Half took part in a free medically tailored meal program for about a year; the other half did not. During a two-year follow-up, people who received medically tailored meals had 49% fewer hospital admissions and 72% fewer nursing home admissions than those who did not receive meals. Getting the meals was also tied to a 16% reduction in medical costs each month. To find a program near you, check out the partner section of the Food Is Medicine Coalition (

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