Nav: Home

Five-minute chats in the waiting room may prompt families to eat more fruits and vegetables

January 18, 2017

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Low-income families were more likely to use their federal food assistance on nutritious food after learning that their dollars can be doubled for more fruits and vegetables, a new study finds.

To educate eligible participants, a University of Michigan-led team conducted five-minute conversations in the waiting room of a health clinic. They explained a program called Double Up Food Bucks that matches food assistance dollars spent on fruits and vegetables.

This brief interaction prompted increased fruit and vegetable consumption and led to an almost four-fold increase in program use among families, according to the findings published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"Diet-related disease is disproportionately concentrated in low income communities where fruit and vegetable consumption is far below guidelines. Unfortunately, healthy food is often more expensive than calorie-rich, nutrient-poor junk food," says lead author Alicia Cohen, M.D., M.Sc., clinical lecturer in the U-M Department of Family Medicine and research fellow at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

"Dozens of states now have incentives to encourage healthy eating, but many eligible families do not take advantage of these programs," she says. "We found that lack of awareness was a major reason for underuse. We heard over and over again, 'If I had known about this program before, I would have used it a long time ago.'"

The study was based on surveys from 177 participants enrolled in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) who were approached in a waiting room of a clinic in a low income, diverse area of southeast Michigan.

While waiting for appointments, study participants received a brief explanation of a statewide incentive program called Double Up Food Bucks, which increases low-income shoppers' purchasing power for fruits and vegetables while supporting local growers.

Double Up, run by national nonprofit Fair Food Network, is now available at more than 200 farmers markets, grocery stores, and other retail outlets across Michigan. Up to $20 in SNAP funds spent per market visit are matched with free Double Up Food Bucks that can be used to purchase fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Participants also received handouts, a map highlighting participating market locations and hours, and an extra $10 voucher for their first market visit.

Three months after the brief waiting room intervention, there was a nearly four-fold increase in Double Up program use among study participants. Before the study, 57 percent of participants reported shopping at a farmers market within the last year, however only 18 percent had used Double Up. By the end of the season, 69 percent of participants reported using Double Up at least once, and 34 percent had used it three or more times.

Fruit and vegetable consumption increased among study participants by almost two-thirds of a serving per day - with the greatest increases among those who used Double Up the most.

Cohen notes that diet-related disease, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and obesity, is among the leading causes of death in the U.S. SNAP produce incentives have garnered bipartisan support as a practical way to improve the health impact of the SNAP program. Today, such incentive programs are available in at least 40 states.

"Patients are often pressed to make difficult financial decisions, and fruits and vegetables aren't always easy to afford," Cohen says. "Clinicians can be reluctant to screen for social issues they feel unable to address. But there are so many public and private efforts that can help address needs outside the four walls of the clinic."

"Our work suggests providing information about healthy food incentives at the doctor's office is a low cost, easily implemented intervention that may lead to healthier diets among communities at the highest risk of diet-related disease."
-end-


University of Michigan Health System

Related Vegetables Articles:

Sensitivity to bitter tastes may be why some people eat fewer vegetables
A gene that makes some compounds taste bitter may make it harder for some people to add heart-healthy vegetables to their diet.
Flowering mechanism in Brassica rapa leafy vegetables illuminated
Post graduate students in Kobe University's Graduate School of Agricultural Science have revealed the role of genes in controlling flowering time in the Brassica rapa family.
Offering children a variety of vegetables increases acceptance
Although food preferences are largely learned, dislike is the main reason parents stop offering or serving their children foods like vegetables.
Cooking vegetables: healthier with extra virgin olive oil
Cooking vegetables in the sofrito (sauté) with extra virgin olive oil favours the absorption and release of bioactive compounds of its traditional ingredients (garlic, onion and tomato), according to the study published in the journal Molecules about the role of gastronomy in the health-improving effects of the Mediterranean Diet.
Millions of cardiovascular deaths attributed to not eating enough fruits and vegetables
Preliminary findings from a new study reveal that inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption may account for millions of deaths from heart disease and strokes each year.
Tuck into colourful fruits and vegetables and see the light
A $5.7 billion global medical bill to restore sight for the estimated 45 million people with cataracts could be slashed in half by a diet rich in colourful fruits and vegetables, according to an international study.
Canadians' consumption of fruit and vegetables drops 13 per cent in 11 years
Two surveys taken 11 years apart show a 13-per-cent decrease in the amount of fruit and vegetables being consumed by Canadians, new University of British Columbia research has found.
Fruit and vegetables may be important for mental as well as physical well-being
Researchers at the universities of Leeds and York analysed data from more than 40,000 people in the UK, and found that changes in fruit and vegetable consumption are correlated with changes in mental well-being.
Green leafy vegetables may prevent liver steatosis
A larger portion of green leafy vegetables in the diet may reduce the risk of developing liver steatosis, or fatty liver.
Eat your vegetables (and fish): Another reason why they may promote heart health
Elevated levels of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) -- a compound linked with the consumption of fish, seafood and a primarily vegetarian diet -- may reduce hypertension-related heart disease symptoms.
More Vegetables News and Vegetables Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.