Participation in a farmers' market fruit and vegetable prescription program at a federally qualified health center improves hemoglobin A1C in low income uncontrolled diabetics

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Fruit and vegetable prescription programs have been shown to increase consumption of fresh produce, but whether they have an impact on medical outcomes is unknown. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of participation in a farmers' market and fruit and vegetable prescription program on changes in hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C), blood pressure (BP) and weight in patients with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes at a federally qualified health center (FQHC) in Detroit, MI.

The 13-week Fresh Prescription program (June 2015–October 2015) was designed to improve access and consumption of produce among low-income patients with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes. The program allotted up to $40 ($10 per week for up to four weeks) for purchase of produce from a FQHC located farmers' market. Adult, non-pregnant patients with a history of type 2 diabetes that had an elevated HbA1C > 6.5 within three months before Fresh Prescription program were eligible to participate. HgA1c, BP and weight were collected within three months of program start and within three months of completion.

There were 65 eligible participants with complete biometric data. A statistically significant (p = 0.001) decrease in HbA1C was found (9.54% to 8.83%). However, weight (208.3 lbs. to 209.0 lbs.) and BP (135.1/79.3 mm Hg to 135.8/77.6 mm Hg) did not change from pre- to post-study (p > 0.05).

Access to a fruit and vegetable prescription program over a 13-week period led to decreased HbA1C concentrations in uncontrolled type 2 diabetic patients living in an urban area of predominately-lower socioeconomic status.

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