According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, more than half of adult New Yorkers are overweight. The recently launched “Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program” (FVRx) attempts to combat this startling statistic by allowing doctors to prescribe “Health Bucks” to patients suffering from or at risk of obesity or other diet-related illnesses. These Health Bucks are redeemable for produce at the 138 local farmers markets within the city boundaries.
Patients enrolled in the program receive a monthly prescription of $1/day in Health Bucks for each family member, and they meet with their healthcare providers on a monthly basis for health assessments, prescription renewals, and to set goals based on their progress. Participants also receive nutritional counseling and tips on how to best cook and economize.
FVRx has already proven effective at improving community health in other cities in Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, and California since 2011.
The first 38% of participants in the program in those states dropped their Body Mass Indices, and in the second year the percentage increased to 39% of participants who lowered their Body Mass Indices. Furthermore, the program has been shown to improve patient health and food literacy, to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, and to boost revenue at farmers markets.
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