In partnership with the University of Calgary, Alberta Blue Cross is supporting a research study to investigate whether providing a subsidized healthy food prescription for food-insecure adults living with Type 2 diabetes will help them to better manage their condition and reduce health care costs.

More than 300,000 Albertans live with Type 2 diabetes, so a healthy food subsidy program can help to tackle one of the largest factors contributing to diabetes—access to nutritious and affordable food. For individuals living with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, access to healthier foods can help to improve their health outcomes and prevent the need for costly health care interventions in the future. Our partnership in this research will help to examine the impact of healthy food subsidies as an innovative solution for supporting the wellness of Albertans living with chronic disease and the sustainability of our healthcare system through prevention.

Researchers will work with 400 participants with Type 2 diabetes from several rural and urban communities in Alberta who are also food insecure (that is, they regularly do not have enough food). They will provide all participants with a healthy food prescription and information about healthy eating. Half of the participants will also receive a subsidy specifically for purchasing healthy foods for six months. The researchers will monitor all the participants, measuring their blood sugar levels, blood pressure and other clinical results to study the impact of the program on short and longer-term health and healthcare costs.

This study in preventative health care will be conducted by the University of Calgary and is funded by Alberta Innovates, Alberta Health Services and Alberta Blue Cross.

You can learn more about this new research study on the University of Calgary’s website.

Alberta Blue Cross is pleased to provide our individual health plan members with the opportunity to participate in this research study. During this stage of the research, we are first exploring the impact of making healthy eating more available within plans that closely align with the study inclusion criteria. Alberta Blue Cross members enrolled in one of the following plans may be eligible to participate in the research: Personal Choice Plan, Blue Choice Plan or Blue Assured Plan. If you are enrolled in one of these plans, you can learn more about how to participate on Balance®, our online wellness platform which can be accessed by signing into our member site or our app. Once you are logged in to Balance you will be able to see a banner on the Balance Dashboard with the University of Calgary logo—you can click this to learn more and determine your eligibility.

If you have any questions about the research study, please email the research team at foodrx@ucalgary.ca or call the study helpline at 1-888-215-5189.


 For more information about living with or managing diabetes, visit our diabetes page.

5 Comments

  • Frustrated says:

    WTF….free money to type 2’s?
    What about people with type 1?
    I personally do not have diabetes but know type 1 people who are very careful with their money and are food insecure!
    And a few people with type 2 that just spend on drugs/alcohol/fast cars and holidays who are food insecure.
    They have different priorities and no financial training. Giving them free money is not fair to others!

    • Hello,

      This research study is simply looking to pilot a potential program and understand the effects a subsidy can have on people with type 2 diabetes. Perhaps a future study will look at a subsidy for patients with type 1 diabetes as well, but the current study is only available to a small initial study group.

  • Lana Schuring says:

    Ok. so you are looking at helping people with Type 2 Diabetes, that’s great. But what about people living with Type 1 Diabetes? I call Alberta Blue Cross often to check if they are covering blood glucose monitoring systems like the Freestyle Libre or the Dexcom, but to no avail. These devices help to monitor and control blood sugars on a continuous basis rather then finger poking numerous times a day. I know I speak for other Type 1 Diabetics, who have to buy their own devices and sensors out of pocket, the newer devices result in better control of their diabetes. Yet Alberta Blue Cross will not support that. I have been a diabetic for almost 40 years and my fingers get very sore and callused when I try to draw blood when poking with a needle. I have to try several times on different fingers to actually get a droplet of blood. Therefore, checking my blood sugars several times a day is just not desirable. With a sensor on your arm, you can check as many times a day as you like and you can see how your blood sugars are trending. This helps to control blood sugar levels much better. I would also venture to say that these devices help to keep hospitalizations down for Albertans living with Type 1 Diabetes and the cost of the testing device is less than buying test strips for the finger poke method.

  • As a longtime type 2 diabetic, I find even the thought of this suggested research very exciting. I have a family DR, whom I can contact for information and discussions mainly about the chemicals I take to control blood sugar, but he is busy 1) and can misread or ignore my requests which are most often about controlling blood sugar and diet. Having diets simplified by research would be great! Count me in. Earl Misfeldt

    • Awesome! Your participation would be so valuable. Sign in to our member site or our app and then head over to the Balance. Once you are logged in to Balance you will be able to see a banner on the Balance Dashboard with the University of Calgary logo—you can click this to learn more and determine your eligibility.

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