Prescriptions for fruit and vegetables could significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, according to a new study. Researchers found that patients who were given vouchers to buy fresh produce had lower rates of cardiovascular disease compared to those who did not receive the vouchers. The study, conducted by the University of Liverpool, involved more than 1,000 participants aged 18 to 69 years old with a high risk of developing heart disease or stroke.
Participants were divided into two groups: one received “prescriptions” for fruit and vegetables worth £3.10 ($4.30) per day, while the other group did not receive any vouchers. The participants in the intervention group were able to use the vouchers at local supermarkets to purchase fresh produce. The study lasted for six months, during which researchers monitored the participants’ health outcomes.
The findings revealed that the group receiving the fruit and vegetable vouchers had a 40% lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to the control group. Additionally, the intervention group showed improvements in blood pressure levels and cholesterol levels. The researchers suggest that the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables contributed to these positive health outcomes.
Dr. Chris Littlejohns, Deputy Medical Director at Public Health England, commented on the study, stating that it provides further evidence of the benefits of a healthy diet in reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. He also emphasized the importance of making healthy food choices more accessible and affordable for everyone.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Simon Capewell, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Liverpool, highlighted the potential cost-effectiveness of such interventions. He explained that prescribing fruit and vegetables could be a relatively inexpensive way to improve public health and reduce the burden on healthcare systems.
However, some experts have raised concerns about the sustainability of this approach. Professor Naveed Sattar, from the University of Glasgow, argued that it may not be feasible to provide vouchers to everyone at risk of cardiovascular disease. Instead, he suggested focusing on broader population-level interventions, such as taxes on unhealthy foods and subsidies for healthier options.
In conclusion, a study conducted by the University of Liverpool found that prescribing fruit and vegetables to patients at risk of heart disease and stroke could significantly reduce their cardiovascular disease risk. The research suggests that increasing access to fresh produce through vouchers may be an effective and cost-efficient way to improve public health outcomes. However, there are differing opinions on the sustainability and scalability of this approach, with some experts advocating for broader population-level interventions.