Increasing consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is so vital to human health that doctors are now writing prescriptions…for produce.
A program in Houston, called Wholesome Wave, is being offered by Memorial Hermann Hospital, and allows more than 300 families in the area to redeem their “prescriptions” at local farmers markets and Target stores. Houston isn’t the first city to use a program like this. Wholesome Wave has seen success in other major metro areas like Los Angeles and Miami.
The programs have, so far, been successful. The coupons — about $1 per day per family member — are particularly targeted at children battling obesity and type-2 diabetes, which are now at epidemic levels in the U.S. Many of the recipients are battling high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and prediabetic conditions as well. And while $1 may not seem like much, it’s often more than enough to buy a few servings of fresh fruit and vegetables. It can work faster and safer than drugs in battling some of these conditions. And for children especially, it’s helping to develop healthier habits. Drugs can’t do that.
Families who wish to qualify for the program also have to attend three classes on nutrition. They learn to read labels and how to prepare dishes using fresh fruits and vegetables.
“Our families have been very, very receptive of the program and the children are eating the fruits and vegetables,” Lisa Kimmey-Walker, pediatric nurse practitioner at Memorial Hermann Health Centers for Schools in Lamar Consolidated Independent School District told Click2Houston. “When they come in for their follow-up, I ask them ‘about how many fruits and vegetables do you eat now?’ Many of them were at zero when we started and now they’re eating five, which is the national target. Which very few children are able to achieve.”
Click2 reports on one 11-year-old boy, Joseph, who lost five pounds in one week. “He just discovered he loves broccoli and tangerines,” the site reports.
“Praise God he lost five pounds. He lost five pounds in a week,” his mother, Evelyn Esparza said. “I’m proud and I’m very happy. I’m just full of joy because they help me through this program.”