Twitter Chat: Can healthy eating replace medicine?

At 1 p.m. EDT on Thursday, the PBS NewsHour (@newshour) will host a Twitter chat to discuss how nutrition can help cure and prevent obesity-related chronic disease. Photo by Chuck Grimmett/Flickr

The notion of equipping patients with healthy foods — fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins — rather than drugs to treat ailments is gaining traction in the nation.

One example, Geisinger Health System's Fresh Food Pharmacy in Pennsylvania is part of the effort to use nutrition to treat obesity-related chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. The idea is that these types of prescriptive measures will help lower medical costs.

Currently, diabetes in the United States totals an estimated $245 billion in direct medical and indirect costs a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while the Fresh Food Pharmacy pays approximately $1,000 on each patient. Health providers and insurance companies now consider a healthy diet a part of preventative medicine, saving patients money on future care when they choose to make lifestyle changes.

NPR food and nutrition correspondent Allison Aubrey (@AllisonAubreyFood), PBS NewsHour food series creator and producer Mary Beth Durkin (@MBDurkinPBSFood), Dr. David Eisenberg (@HarvardChanSPH) of the Harvard School of Public Health, and Dr. Sanjeet Baidwan, clinical instructor at Yale School of Medicine and co-founder of Yale Cultivate Health (@SanjeetBaidwan) joined us for an online conversation about the future of this health practice. See the conversation below.

PBS NewsHour special correspondent Allison Aubrey of NPR News reports on how changing patients' diets and becoming more active compares to medication in preventing disease.

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