Food for Thought

Food Could Be the Best Medicine: Doctors Prescribe Fruits and Vegetables to Patients

In the near future, eating healthier foods might be prescribed by doctors to avoid chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

A recent study shows that healthy food prescription would improve people’s health, which is more economical in the long run. Medicare and Medicaid are covering these models of healthy food prescription in the US. These health insurance groups made use of the data provided by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys for the computer simulation for sample representatives.

Two scenarios were studied. The first covered 30 percent of fruit and vegetables while the other, the same amount but for a wider range of diet: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, seafood, and plant-based oil purchases. These models were funded by the insurance groups mentioned above.

The fruit and vegetable incentive deduced a large number of cardiovascular diseases, 1.93 million to be exact. A larger number of prevented cases was recorded for the broader diet incentive, 3.28 million cases of the same disease were avoided. 120,000 diabetes cases were also prevented.

The healthy food prescription did not only reduced the number of diagnosed patients but it also had an effect on healthcare utilization. This initiative amassed a total of $140 billion savings.

The data encourages subsidizing and prescribing healthy food to avoid diseases and for a more cost-effective living. Spending money on healthy food would be better than paying for hospital bills and medication. As per the popular saying goes, prevention is better than cure.

In line with this, a program known as FVRx was created, wherein doctors across the US will be able to “prescribe” fruits and vegetables to patients in poor communities, who can then redeem produce for free at participating grocery stores.

Michel Nischan, Founder and CEO of Wholesome Wave, the company behind FVRx, said, “Helping Americans struggling with poverty is something the private sector needs to take on full-force,

Michel Nischan, photo lifted from twitter.

He adds, “There’s no better way to express the spirit of our great country than through feeding those who are falling on hard times by helping consumers put fresh fruits and vegetables on the table.”

The original article was first published in Agriculture Online.

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