OAKLAND – U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra was at Wilma Chan Highland Hospital in Oakland Friday morning to hear how Alameda County has been treating, preventing and reversing disease by prescribing more vegetables, changing the behavior of patients and training providers.
Federal officials now want to take the program nationwide.
Research has shown that Alameda County’s Recipe4Health program has helped residents be healthier.
The program is based on healthy eating recipes, behavioral changes such as more exercise and training for doctors and staff to use food instead of drugs to treat, prevent and reverse some chronic diseases.
Now with the help of 2 million dollars provided by Rep. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, federal officials may begin raising it.
“We’re all in this food as medicine,” Becerra said at a news conference at the hospital.
He said, “Today, we are challenging states” to “join us in treating food as medicine. And help us prove that by getting people with good food, by prescribing good food as medicine, we will we make people healthier.”
Roque Centeno, a patient in the Recipe4Health program, didn’t think it was for him at first.
“I’ve learned to eat better,” Centeno said.
Now he eats vegetables at almost every meal, he said. He doesn’t eat sugar. I don’t even put sugar in the coffee.
Now he is no longer pre-diabetic or anxious.
“Thank you for the program,” Centeno said.
Thirty-two percent of patients in the program saw an improvement in indicators of diabetes and prediabetes, and 67 percent an improvement in their cholesterol, an indicator of cardiovascular care.
“These are the types of outcomes that we want to look forward to and see as part of our federal program,” said Alameda County Supervisor Lena Tam.
Food as Medicine was an initiative championed by the late Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan. Becerra said the last time he was officially in Oakland was with Chan.
“We talked about it with him,” Becerra said. “That was one of Wilma’s major projects. I know she’s looking down and saying, ‘I knew Oakland would deliver.'”
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