The farm stand is becoming the new apothecary, dispensing apples—not to mention artichokes, asparagus and arugula—for a novel kind of prescription. Doctors at three health centres in Massachusetts, US, have begun advising patients to eat “prescription produce” from local farmers’ markets, in an effort to fight obesity in children of low-income families. They will give coupons amounting to $1 (around Rs46) a day for each member of a patient’s family to promote healthy meals. “A lot of these kids have a very limited range of fruits and vegetables that are acceptable and familiar to them. Potentially, they will try more,” says Suki Tepperberg, a family physician at Codman Square Health Centerin Dorchester, one of the programme sites. “The goal is to get them to increase their consumption of fruit and vegetables by one serving a day.” Although obesity is a complex problem unlikely to be solved just by eating more vegetables, supporters of the veggie voucher programme hope that physician intervention will spur young people to adopt the kind of behavioural changes that can help forestall lifelong obesity.
©2010/THE NEW YORK TIMES