NYC Doctors Are Now Prescribing Fruits And Veggies

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ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538
NYC Doctors Are Now Prescribing Fruits And Veggies

Doctors typically give patients prescriptions for medications. But a new program in New York City has doctors prescribing fruits and vegetables to obese or overweight patients.

Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley launched the Tuesday. It aims to give at-risk families greater access to healthy foods.

Under the program, obese or overweight patients can be prescribed Health Bucks redeemable for produce at local farmers markets.

Health Bucks are a part of the city's initiative to make locally grown produce available to low-income New Yorkers. The vouchers are accepted at more than 140 New York City farmers markets.

The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program is meant to benefit whole families and communities at a time. Patients in the program receive $1 in Health Bucks per day for each person in their family for a period of at least four months. Each month, patients check in with the hospital to have their prescriptions renewed, and their weight and body mass index evaluated. They also receive nutritional counseling.

Bronx resident Tammy Futch says her family has seen positive changes since starting the program.

"My son lost 40 pounds [being on] this program," she says, "and also I lost weight doing it with him. ... I have four other kids also doing the program."

The prescription program was started by , a nonprofit that connects low-income people with local, farm fresh foods. In 2011, the group at sites in Massachusetts, Maine, California and Rhode Island. It has now expanded to seven states.

This summer, Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx and became the first New York State facilities to participate in the program.

Dr. Shefali Khanna, chief of pediatrics at says she thinks the program will bring lasting benefits to the city.

"We're not only teaching them just about eating healthy," Khanna says. "This is really an investment for the future. And we hope we have a whole generation of kids who benefit from this, and reaches adulthood at a healthy optimal weight."

NYC Doctors Are Now Prescribing Fruits And Veggies : The Salt : NPR

What do you think? There is a lot of discussion around 'fixing' the obesity epidemic. Do you think this is a good way to go, is it something you would support?

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4104

Sounds like a great idea to me! A coordinating idea would be to encourage vendors at farmers markets to accept SNAP cards. We (finally!) got a farmers market in our neighborhood and I was surprised that over half of them had signs up that they accept SNAP cards, and I thought that was great. Encouraging & helping poor people to eat Good food is never a bad thing.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6793

As an aside, I was at a farmers market this weekend that had a big sign saying they accept SNAP.

I think it is a great idea.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

I guess I am wondering if there is some down side to this that I am not seeing, or maybe this isnt the whole story and someone else has more information? It just seems like such a 'duh, of course' moment, it makes me wonder why it has never been done before.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3338

I love this. What a great idea!

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4221

Makes a lot more sense than limiting what size cup of soft drink you can buy.

mom2robbie's picture
Joined: 01/20/07
Posts: 2541

Sounds great. No idea what a SNAP card is but fresh fruits and vegies can be expensive, half our grocery bill each week is on produce.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4104

SNAP cards are what used to be food stamps. I think it stands for Supplemental Nutrition something-or-other.... It's like a debit card that the state loads each month with the amount you get and you can use it to buy food at grocery stores and sometimes at other places that sell food. We were at a gas station this past weekend that accepted SNAP cards.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2256

I think it's a great idea. How could this even have a con side to it?

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1537

Love this idea. Hope they can get a lot of good nutrition information into the hands of the people that are struggling with obesity

Joined: 03/14/09
Posts: 624

I don't understand why just obese patients. What about kids with frequent colds and parents who think they should only eat chicken nuggets?

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4104

Because obesity in low-income people (and especially in kids) costs taxpayers a lot of money in health care; colds don't. They have a limited amount of money to work with so the idea is to help those at the highest risk to maximize the initial success of the program. If it works, then there will be a very valid argument to expand the program to include others.