Narrative review: food as medicine across the pediatric age continuum

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Current opinion in pediatrics




PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Poor diet and food insecurity contribute to the dramatic rise in diet-related chronic disease and increasing cost of healthcare. The Food as Medicine (FAM) framework describes food-based interventions designed to prevent, manage, and treat diet-related diseases. However, FAM interventions have not been widely implemented or evaluated in pediatric populations, so critical questions remain about their optimal delivery and design, efficacy, and funding opportunities. We have reviewed the recent literature and offer insights into potential funding and implementation strategies for pediatric healthcare providers. RECENT FINDINGS: Data from adult and population-level interventions provide evidence that FAM interventions positively impact diet quality, food security, health outcomes, and healthcare utilization and cost in adults and households with children. Evidence from recent pediatric-based FAM interventions and population data from recent changes to federal nutrition programs support the use of food-based interventions to improve child diet quality, food insecurity, and potentially impact long-term health and healthcare utilization and cost. SUMMARY: Applying the entire spectrum of evidence-based FAM interventions in pediatric settings from prenatal to adolescent stages will offer the greatest opportunity to ensure all children have access to enough healthful food so they can achieve their highest potential in life.