Examine the effectiveness of a Fruit and Vegetable Prescription (FV Rx) program for at-risk children and caregivers.
Use of Theory or Research
Higher fruit and vegetable intakes have been associated with reduced risk of chronic disease. Growing evidence supports the use of FV Rx programs to improve fruit and vegetable consumption among participants. Additional research is needed to determine effects of such programs on pediatric patients and caregivers.
Pediatric patients deemed to be at risk of diet-related chronic disease, and their caregivers.
Participants screened by clinicians were prescribed fruits and vegetables for 6 months (October 2018-March 2019). Caregivers received a FV Rx card ($60 per month) to purchase produce at participating stores and were offered nutrition education and grocery shopping classes.
Surveys were administered to collect demographic data; pre/post caregiver and child dietary intake; pre/post attitudes, beliefs, and health status (Likert scale); and overall experience participating in the program. Percent of participants reporting increased dietary intake or a positive shift on the Likert scale from pre- to post-program was recorded.
Ninety-four dyads completed pre/post surveys (children: age 8.9 ± 5.0, 50% males, 78.5% Hispanic). Most families (60%) were currently receiving or had received SNAP benefits in the past and used FV Rx cards once or twice a month (57%). Caregivers reported participating stores were easy to get to (88%), and they felt comfortable using the card (69%). Caregivers reported positive shifts in children's dietary intake including fruits (62%), green leafy salad (56%), and beans (45%). More adults met the dietary guidelines for fruit (59%) and vegetable intake (25%) post-program vs pre-program (37% fruit, 6% vegetable). Caregivers (42-57%) also reported positive shifts in perceived personal and child health and diet status.
By increasing access and affordability of healthy foods through a FV Rx program in clinical settings, children and their caregivers can make positive shifts to improve dietary intake and health beliefs which may reduce risk of chronic disease.