Prescribing Produce could reduce the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes

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You are what you eat

A healthy diet is important to overall health, but especially important to manage risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D). Not meeting the minimum daily requirement of fruits and vegetables is a common problem in the United States. This problem is only exacerbated by socioeconomic disparities among low income and racial/ethnic minorities. 

Federal Aid is Not Enough

There are high rates of Hispanic/Latino households enrolled in federal aid programs. Many families use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to purchase foods for their family. However, these monthly benefits are not sufficient to cover fresh produce. 

Farming for Life 

The Farming for Study was conducted in Santa Barbara, California from 2019-2022. Participants who were at-risk or had type 2 diabetes (not on insulin)were given weekly (21 servings) free fresh fruits and vegetables. Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) were also used to observe changes in glucose levels. 

Prescribing Fresh Produce

In this study, cardiometabolic health improvements in addition to psychosocial benefits were observed with the fresh produce prescriptions including less depression, stress and anxiety. There was also a significant lowering of blood pressure and participants reported better sleep and less pain. 

It therefore seems that produce prescriptions may be a worthwhile intervention to not only reduce the risk of T2D, but also lowers food insecurity among Hispanic/Latino households. This study was done without a control reference group and physical activity was not measured through the visits, therefore more work needs to be done. However, if these findings are seen on a larger scale, perhaps the cost of healthcare may be dramatically reduced by decreasing the need for expensive drugs.