‘Fruit and Vegetable Prescriptions’ Linked to Reduced Food Insecurity and Improved Health Outcomes

by Ella

A novel approach to combating food insecurity and fostering better health outcomes has emerged through “prescriptions” for fruits and vegetables, as highlighted by a recent study. The investigation, published in the peer-reviewed journal Circulation by the American Heart Association, delves into the positive effects of produce prescription programs on both adults and children, particularly those grappling with or at risk of poor cardiometabolic health. The study’s scope encompassed participants hailing from clinics catering to low-income neighborhoods.

In these programs, participants were granted a median sum of $63 monthly, earmarked for the acquisition of fresh produce from local farmers’ markets and stores, spanning durations of four to ten months. The study involved preliminary and concluding questionnaires probing fruit and vegetable consumption, food security levels, and overall health status. Moreover, routine health metrics such as blood pressure, weight, height, and hemoglobin levels were assessed at both the beginning and conclusion of the program.


A noteworthy finding surfaced: the intake of fruits and vegetables exhibited a palpable surge, with adults incorporating nearly an additional cup daily and children augmenting their consumption by over a quarter of a cup daily.


An intriguing development unfolded as the study revealed a reduction of one-third in the odds of participants experiencing food insecurity upon completion of the produce prescription programs. Furthermore, participants experienced notable enhancements in crucial health metrics, including systolic and diastolic blood pressures, blood sugar levels, and body mass index (BMI).


Dr. Mitchell Elkind, Chief Clinical Science Officer of the American Heart Association, emphasized, “Poor nutrition and nutrition insecurity are major drivers of chronic disease globally, including cardiometabolic conditions like Type 2 diabetes and their cardiovascular consequences, including heart failure, heart attack, and stroke.” He underscored the study’s significance in illuminating the potential of produce prescriptions in amplifying fruit and vegetable consumption, mitigating food insecurity, and positively impacting health markers.


The study stands out as one of the most extensive investigations into produce prescription initiatives, spanning nine programs across the United States, as highlighted by the American Heart Association. It’s worth noting that the study lacked a control group for comparative purposes.

Dr. Elkind noted, “Future research will need to include randomized controlled trials to offset any potential bias and prove more rigorously the benefits of produce prescription programs.”

The comprehensive analysis encompassed 3,881 individuals participating in various programs nationwide, comprising 2,064 adults aged 18 and above, as well as 1,817 children aged between 2 and 17 years old.



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