Monday, August 12, 2013

Prescribing Fruits & Veggies: Good or Bad?

  Take two of these and call me in the morning.

NYC Doctors Are Now Prescribing Fruits And Veggies

Maybe I'm wrong here so let me know what you think.

On this surface, this sounds great. But when you think about it for a minute, you realize it's just another handout from the government. Hear me out...

I think the idea of prescribing fruits & veggies as an alternative to medications to treat obesity is a great idea.
Obviously, diet and exercise should be the very first thing doctors prescribe. Medication should be a last alternative & really only if there is a medical need. I think everyone should fill their diet with as many fruits and vegetables as they can!

I am also quite aware of how much fruit and vegetables can cost. This is always a bummer to me. Our entire family loves them. Yes, even the kids! Tonight at dinner K is busy eating her chicken casserole when she spots a hidden broccoli floret & yells "Yay! Broccoli!" This makes me smile. This is also the same child who was at the grocery store with me and threw a small temper tantrum in the produce section because I couldn't afford to by a $6 bag of apples. This makes me sad. And slightly embarrassed. People looked at me like a mean mommy who wouldn't by her kid a bag of apples.

My problem with this program is that it targets low-income families. Why? Are the middle and upper income families immune to obesity? Obviously not. I'm an overweight middle-class mom with 4 healthy (& not overweight) children, married to an overweight man. Despite our "disease" we would not qualify for this "prescription" because we make to much money. Not enough money to buy a $6 bag of apples, but too much money to be given $6 a day (see article) to buy said bag of apples.

On the post there was quite a discussion in the comments section, and few things stood out to me:

"It's not fair to the sick who are thin."  I agree! Just because you are thin does not mean you are healthy. What about anyone who is malnourished?

 "...where is the sense of responsibility? Being obese is now considered a disease and are being prescribed sh** they should have been eating in the first place?" Okay, to be totally honest, I could go either way with this one. Not everyone who is obese got that way from stuffing their face with Oreos. Some of us have medical issues that add excess weight or make it hard to lose any. However, we should ALL be responsible enough to eat a carrot stick every once in a while.

"There are many urban cities that do not have ready access to fruits and vegetables. They do not have large grocery chains in their area and when they can get it, produce is expensive. If your trying to fill bellies, unfortunately processed food is often more filling. Please understand their lives before you pass judgement." This one just totally irks me. Perhaps they missed the part in the article that mentions the Health Bucks are accepted at 140 farmer's markets. 140! In one city! That would signal access to fruits and vegetables. And I'm pretty darn sure that NYC has a few grocery stores. Maybe not next door to your house, but probably within walking distance. Yes, processed food is filling. However, that sounds like a good educational program is needed, not another handout.

"Can I get health bucks to help us stay healthy? So those who are not smart get an incentive to get them to eat healthy but those who know better get nothing?" No, apparently not. Yes, apparently so. SMH

My last point is this: This program appears to only be available to low-income families, which means they are all probably recipients of food stamps. (I have no problems with food stamps for people who need them.) I read somewhere not too long ago that my family of six COULD qualify for up to $900 a month in food stamps. If we didn't make the bazillions of dollars that we do. (Can you feel the sarcasm in that one? Ok, good.) $900 a month for groceries would have me catapulting over the house! With this "prescription", we would get another $180 a month to spend at the farmer's market. I'm salivating at the thought! Can you add? That's over $1,000 every stinkin' month to feed my family. Organic & grass-fed all the way, baby!

But, we're not low-income. We're middle-income, which means we have a much smaller budget for groceries because nobody gives it to us. We still manage to eat relatively healthy. We do not get to buy as many fruits and vegetables as we want because they ARE expensive. We do not fill up on convenience foods just because they are cheap.

And apparently it's okay for us to be fat.

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