New Study Shows “Prescribed” Fruits and Vegetables Improve Health
A groundbreaking study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation has revealed that “prescribing” fruits and vegetables to both adults and children can lead to increased consumption and improved health. The study, which focused on individuals at risk for cardiovascular disease, found that participants in produce prescription programs experienced a significant positive impact on their health after just six months of participation.
The produce prescription programs provide participants with electronic cards or vouchers that grant them access to free or discounted fruits and vegetables at grocery stores or farmers’ markets. According to the study, over 3,800 participants across nine programs, with almost half being children, experienced increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, resulting in improved body mass index, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels.
Interestingly, the programs not only improved participants’ health but also addressed the issue of food insecurity, a major factor in chronic diseases. More than half of the participants reported food insecurity, but the programs effectively combated this issue, resulting in a decrease in food insecurity rates.
Participants received a monthly amount of $63 to purchase produce, and they also completed questionnaires about their consumption, food insecurity, and health status. Although the study did not have a control group, the findings clearly indicate the potential of produce prescription programs to be an effective tool for improving health.
The study revealed that adults reported an increase in fruits and vegetables consumption of nearly one cup per day, while children increased their intake by about a quarter cup per day. Additionally, the odds of experiencing food insecurity dropped by one-third for participants in the programs.
Despite these promising results, experts emphasize the need for further research, including randomized controlled trials, to fully establish the benefits of produce prescription programs. The American Heart Association’s new Food Is Medicine Initiative, aimed to support future trials, is set to evaluate the impact of these programs in more detail.
Overall, this study highlights the effectiveness of produce prescription programs in improving health and combatting food insecurity. With the potential to significantly enhance overall well-being, these programs are becoming a promising tool in the fight against cardiovascular diseases and other chronic conditions.