Thursday, September 12, 2013

Prescribing Fruit and Vegetables

This morning I heard an interesting piece on NPR's morning edition.  The idea is that physicians in New York City can prescribe fruits and vegetables and the individuals to whom they prescribe these will get "Health Bucks" to use at the farmers' markets.  The health bucks are allocated as $1 per family member per day for up to four months.  So, a family of four would get $480 to spend at farmers' markets over four months.  In addition, they get extra education.

Is this a big deal?  Well, on a per-person per-month basis this adds $30 that can be spent only at farmer's markets.  That may be a big deal for some families.  They may be able to access quality fresh fruit and vegetables they would not be able to otherwise.  But, the $30 alone might not do much.

What would happen without information?

Are families able to make trips to the farmers' markets on a regular basis?  There is still an opportunity cost of time.

Maybe it is just enough to get them to try fresh fruit and vegetables after which they engage in better dietary behavior themselves.

There is testimony from one participant and from one physician.  Does that prove the program is successful for everyone?  Well, no program is successful for everyone.  It does offer some proof of concept.  And perhaps for $30/person/month this is a relatively inexpensive addition to a weight control program.  It would be interesting to see how well this generalizes and what options other than farmers' markets could be used when there are fewer available or the travel distances are greater.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, it is right this program is not successful for everyone, but we should look at its bright side. Not all, but many people will get fresh fruit and vegetables, otherwise they have to survive on stored items, which are continuously destroying their health.