DALLAS, September 25, 2023 — The American Heart Association, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, announced the first request for proposals (RFP) for the new Food Is Medicine Initiative targeted at improving health outcomes for millions of people. The Association anticipates awarding up to $3 million in research funds focused on feasibility and implementation science, specifically to achieve high rates of enrollment and engagement in Food Is Medicine interventions, and testing ways to accomplish significant short-term changes in healthy eating behavior. Equity is central to this initiative, and applicants will be strongly encouraged to use a patient-centered approach to study design.

“Healthy foods can help treat and prevent serious chronic diseases that impact millions of people nationwide and constitute a large and disproportionate share of health care spending,” said Kevin Volpp, M.D., Ph.D., American Heart Association volunteer, director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the University of Pennsylvania and newly appointed research lead of the Food Is Medicine Initiative. “We are executing an inclusive and coordinated research strategy to identify methods and strategies where Food Is Medicine supports treatment and prevention of diet-related diseases, with the goal of making Food Is Medicine a regular and reimbursable component of health care.”

An estimated 90% of the $4.3 trillion annual cost of health care in the United States is spent on medical care for chronic diseases, many of them diet-related, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. While copious research exists on the links between nutrition and health, many barriers prevent the widespread adoption of food as a treatment for chronic disease. Significant disparities in health equity and higher rates of poor diet quality among certain populations exacerbate diet-related diseases.

“Good food is the foundation of life and health. Unfortunately, far too many people lack access to affordable, nutritious foods, setting them up for a lifetime of chronic diseases and significantly increasing health care costs,” said Devon Klatell, vice president for Food, The Rockefeller Foundation. “There is increasing evidence that Food Is Medicine interventions can improve health outcomes while reducing health care costs. We look forward to gaining further insights into how all sectors can work together to structure efficient and effective programs.”

The research that springs from this first RFP will help build the foundation for future large-scale clinical trials. Ultimately, the initiative’s research aims to generate the definitive evidence needed to provide widespread coverage of food-based treatment options for the millions of Americans living with chronic disease.

This exploration is being put in practice through the Food Is Medicine Initiative announced by the Association and The Rockefeller Foundation at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health in September 2022. RFP applications are open through Nov. 6. A webinar will be held Oct. 4 to answer questions from researchers considering submitting proposals. To learn more about the Food Is Medicine Initiative, view the RFP, and register for the webinar, visit the Food Is Medicine Initiative web page.

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The Association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific Association programs and events. The Association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and biotech companies, device manufacturers and health insurance providers and the Association’s overall financial information are available here.

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, X or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.


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Steve Weiss: steve.weiss@heart.org

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