Food as Medicine


Health and nutrition disparities and high rates of non-communicable diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes, are prevalent throughout the United States and are difficult to address within the current structure of our health care system. Food retail settings provide a unique opportunity for registered dietitian nutritionists to address gaps in health care equity and improve public health by providing much-needed access points and the ability for nutrition professionals to meet consumers where they are on a regular basis, and importantly, where they are making food decisions, and provide innovative, nutrition-focused programming.

Nutrition in Food Retail Program Development (NFRPD) Fellowship

In January 2019, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation (Foundation) received a planning grant from Walmart for a new project titled, “Leveraging RDNs in the Food Retail Environment to Improve Public Health”. Led by the Foundation’s Nutrition in Food Retail Program Development fellow, several resources have been developed, and several more are currently being developed to further support the work of RDNs within food retail settings.

Food as Medicine Resources

Continuing Education

Additional Resources

Food as Medicine Retail Nutrition Framework

Consumer focus on health and well-being and the Food as Medicine trend remain as top factors positively impacting sales and profits for food retailers, according to FMI’s Food Retailing Industry Speaks 2020 report. Health and well-being – which are defined by the consumer – will continue to be key purchase drivers as consumers lead the charge in setting food and health trends. Registered dietitian nutritionists are trusted allies for shoppers and their families and add value to food retailers by increasing customer traffic into the store, improving customer loyalty through meaningful engagement, elevating basket size and sales through direct and indirect customers interactions, enhancing the retailer’s brand image through public relations and communications, and adding to the bottom line by creating revenue streams.

In November 2019, a NFRPD expert advisory group, made up of 24 professionals chosen for their expertise in food retail, business, health care, community and research/education, convened at a roundtable meeting at the Academy headquarters in Chicago, IL to determine how food retailers can implement Food as Medicine program models with RDNs leading these efforts. The resulting Food as Medicine definition and retail nutrition framework was developed as an outcome of the two-day roundtable meeting and further supported through findings from the Retail Nutrition Programs and Outcomes scoping review.

Food as Medicine is a philosophy where food and nutrition aids individuals through interventions that support their health and wellness.

Focus areas include:

  • Food as preventative medicine to promote health and well-being
  • Food as Medicine in disease management and treatment
  • Food as Medicine to improve food and nutrition security
  • Food as Medicine to promote food safety

Food as Medicine is a reaffirmation that food and nutrition always plays a role in sustaining health, preventing disease, and as a therapy for those in situations or with conditions responsive to changes in their diet.


The Food as Medicine Retail Nutrition Framework was designed to help RDNs leading Food as Medicine efforts in food retail settings to expand the impact of food retailers to support health and well-being for their customers, employees, communities and environments they serve.

The Food as Medicine Retail Nutrition Landscape white paper includes:

  • Background of the concept of Food as Medicine, the role Food as Medicine plays in health, and the importance of Food as Medicine in food retail settings
  • Current landscape of retail health and well-being
  • Food as Medicine program models and implications within food retail health and well-being platforms
  • Food as Medicine Retail Nutrition Framework for program development, including focus areas, target shoppers, and recommended program models
  • Key elements for building successful Food as Medicine programs
  • Case examples of current successful Food as Medicine retail models

Interested in learning more about Food as Medicine and implementing the retail nutrition framework? Complete the form below to access a PDF of the Food as Medicine Retail Nutrition Landscape white paper.