According to a new American study, “prescribing” fruit and vegetables by prescription to low-income people would significantly improve their weight and reduce their blood pressure. A habit to develop?
Could prescribing carrots, cabbage, and apples directly on prescription encourage you to eat better and thus improve your overall health? Yes, according to a new American study, which tried the experiment in several States, through 9 programs concerning 3,800 people. Six months of prescription of this style would have a beneficial effect by reducing blood sugar, body mass index and blood pressure, three factors of cardiovascular disease.
A reduction in risk factors with 30% more fruits and vegetables
The experiment was conducted in a dozen states, from California to Florida between 2014 and 2020. The participants, all food insecure and/or with several cardiovascular risk factors, received vouchers or health cards. worth $15 to $300 a month to buy more fruits and vegetables at farmers markets and grocery stores. Participants also took nutrition courses. At the start and after completing the program — which lasted 4 to 10 months — participants completed questionnaires about fruit and vegetable consumption, food insecurity and health status.
- At the end of each period, the study found that adults who participated in the programs ended up eating about 30% more produce per day;
- Blood pressure decreased in patients with high blood pressure at study entry;
- Blood sugar levels also fell by 0.29 to 0.58 percentage points in adults with diabetes;
- BMI improved significantly in obese adults. In children, however, BMI did not change;
- Overall, participants were one-third less likely to report food insecurity after completing the programs than before the programs.
Reducing food insecurity first
If the experiment is conclusive, it does not however say whether the beneficial effects are strictly linked to the nutritional intake of the fruits and vegetables consumed, or simply to the fact of getting out of the food insecurity that existed in 56% of the participants, who did not were simply not having enough to eat. “Most Americans don’t eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day.” selon les Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We know that food insecurity impacts health in many ways, including through overall diet quality, but also through stress and anxiety, mental health, and trade-offs between paying for food and other basic needs such as housing costs, utilities and medicine”, says Kurt Hager, first author of the revealed study. Further studies will therefore be necessary to determine where exactly the reduction in risk factors comes from. At any rate, “these programs could work by taking the stress and anxiety out of not knowing where your next meal will come from” concludes the author.
Without side effects and good for our health, fresh fruits and vegetables may be the future of our treatments.