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Doctors prescribe fruit, vegetables to obese patients in NYC

Categories: Community, Health

 Would you consider turning to produce as an alternative to medicine? (iStock) In an effort to help curb population girth, two New York City hospitals are handing fruit and vegetable prescriptions to overweight patients.

Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx) prescriptions will function, essentially, as coupons for fresh produce.

Patients can take their "health bucks" to a number of farmers markets throughout the city and trade them in for vegetables or fruit.

The newly announced four-month pilot program, created by a Connecticut-based nonprofit organization called Wholesome Wave, was designed specifically to help underprivileged overweight and obese children who are at risk of developing diet-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

It is currently being implemented at Lincoln Medical Centre in the Bronx and Harlem Hospital in Manhattan - two areas at high risk for poor youth nutrition, according to New York Health Commissioner Thomas Farley.

"This is probably going to prevent an awful lot of disease in the long term than the medicines we tend to write prescriptions for," he told reporters, noting that one in 10 New Yorkers don't eat any fruits or vegetables on a given day. In the Bronx, that number shoots up to five in 10.

In a 2010 feasibility study of 246 people, the program was shown to have had a significant effect on participants' shopping and eating habits, as well as on their knowledge about the importance of fruits and vegetables in their diet.

"A food environment full of processed foods full of fat, sugar and salt is contributing to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and other chronic diseases," Farley said. "The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription program is a creative approach that will enable at-risk patients to visit any of our 142 Farmers Markets and purchase the fruits and vegetables that will help them stay healthy."

140 patients are currently enrolled in the new program.

Would you consider turning to produce as an alternative to  medicine? Share your thoughts below.

Tags: Health, POV

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