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Effect of a Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program on Children's Fruit and Vegetable Consumption.

  • Author(s): Ridberg, Ronit A
  • Bell, Janice F
  • Merritt, Kathryn E
  • Harris, Diane M
  • Young, Heather M
  • Tancredi, Daniel J
  • et al.
Abstract

Introduction

Most children in families with low income do not meet dietary guidance on fruit and vegetable consumption. Fruit and vegetable prescription programs improve access to and affordability of health-supporting foods for adults, but their effect on dietary behavior among children is not known. The objective of this study was to describe the extent to which exposure to a fruit and vegetable prescription program was associated with changes in consumption among participants aged 2 to 18.

Methods

We used data from a modified National Cancer Institute screener to calculate fruit and vegetable intake among 883 children who were overweight or had obesity and participated in a 4- to 6-month fruit and vegetable prescription program at federally qualified health centers during 4 years (2012-2015). Secondary analyses in 2017 included paired t tests to compare change in fruit and vegetable consumption (cups/day) between first and last visits and multivariable linear regressions, including propensity dose-adjusted models, to model this change as a function of sociodemographic and program-specific covariates, such as number of clinical visits and value of prescription redemption.

Results

We found a dose propensity-adjusted increase of 0.32 cups (95% confidence interval, 0.19-0.45 cups) for each additional visit while holding constant the predicted number of visits and site. An equal portion of the change-score increase was attributed to vegetable consumption and fruit consumption (β = 0.16 for each).

Conclusion

Fruit and vegetable prescription programs in clinical settings may increase fruit and vegetable consumption among children in low-income households. Future research should use a comparison group and consider including qualitative analysis of site-specific barriers and facilitators to success.

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