Fighting obesity with a prescription for fruits and veggies?
A new program designed to help overweight or obese children and their families get better access to healthy food, is hoping to make a dent in some of the daunting national statistics.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 17 percent (or 12 million) children and adolescents aged 2-19 are obese. Additionally, one third of adults in the U.S. are obese.
The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx), created by the non-profit Wholesome Wave in 2010, has a mission to “improve access and affordability of fresh, healthy, locally-grown produce to historically underserved communities,” according to their website.
How FVRx works
Primary Care Physicians (PCP) have the option to enroll children into the FVRx program. During the next 4-6 months after enrollment, the physician and nutritionist meet with the patient monthly to track their weight and body mass index (BMI). The patient is also given an FVRx prescription, valued at $1 per day per family member, redeemable for locally grown produce only.
In 2012, Wholesome Wave reported that 37.8 percent of child participants decreased their BMI and 55.3 percent of participants increased their fruit and vegetable consumption. They also found that 53 percent of families changed their shopping behaviors and visited the farmers market eight or more times during the FVRx season.
Some physicians see potential benefits in programs like this.
“Large obstacles to healthy eating are price and knowledge. The FVRx program erases these barriers and allows families to make real changes to the way they shop and eat while seeing the benefits of changes through regular medical visits,” says Dr. Kiranjit Deol, a family medicine physician at Dreyer Medical Clinic. “This may not “cure” obesity, but it is one step closer to a healthier future.”
New York was the first state to adopt the FVRx program others include Massachusetts, Maine, California and Rhode Island. The benefit of this program reaches more than just the participant, it boosts local farmers’ revenue, and supports community health, FVRx leaders say.
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