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Diabetes Prescription Program Targets Nutrition

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, August 19, 2010

In a study released this month by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a startling finding was reported: one in five hospitalizations involved patients with diabetes. As one way to tackle this ongoing epidemic, a new pilot was unveiled last week in Chicago that calls for adult diabetic patients to receive a different kind of prescription from their physicians—one for fresh, healthy foods sold through a local well-known retailer.

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of communities—and addressing such difficulties as finding nutritious, wholesome foods for purchase within many communities—in regard to individual healthcare. While medical care was said to prevent only 10% to 15% of premature deaths, social and cultural factors and the quality of environment were found to play a critical role in determining our overall health.

Keeping in mind that an important, but easy, way to control diabetes is through healthy diet and exercise, three groups— Northwestern Medicine (which includes Northwestern Memorial Healthcare), Walgreens Corp., and Near North Health Service (a federally qualified health center with eight clinical locations in the Chicago area)—launched a new program called "Greenlight Select."

This new pilot will be focusing on the diabetic patients of one of Near North's clinics—who live in an area where grocery stores are not convenient: where it's easier to buy potato chips than a bag of potatoes. When they visit their physician, in addition to medical prescriptions for their diabetes, they also will receive a prescription that lists "foods for a balanced diet" such as a variety of fruits and vegetables, meats and proteins, dairy, and grains.

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