Imagine your surprise if you took your overweight child to the doctor for a check-up and rather than prescribing a weight loss drug, she ordered up a free helping of fresh fruits and vegetables.
That’s what a group of health care clinics and hospitals in Minnesota is doing to improve the health of youngsters between 5-12 years old. The HealthPartners’ pilot project outside of the Twin Cities works like this: If children tip the scales at their annual check-up, doctors write a prescription for fresh fruits and vegetables – really just vouchers at a local grocery store. Funded by HealthPartners, they get to choose which varieties they want to try and the store keeps track of the purchases.
The idea behind the so called prescriptions is to make them look official so children will equate good eating with good health care.
“It could save us a huge amount of money down the road in our cholesterol-lowering drugs, in our heart-saving procedures,” said Dr. Elsa Keeler, a pediatrician at a HealthPartners clinic.
One child chose spinach and apples, which her mother made into applesauce and used instead of oil in cooking. She liked spinach enough to progress to zucchini in a salad or breads.
Letting children choose the vegetables and fruits they want is the key to success, say parents.
“I think it was successful because it was their thing, it wasn’t me encouraging them to do it,” said Emily Miller, who participated in the pilot.
Source: Minnesota Star Tribune