• Fruit and vegetables on prescription: A brief intervention in primary care

      Buyuktuncer, Zehra; Kearney, Matt; Ryan, Christine L.; Thurston, Miranda; Ellahi, Basma; University of Chester/Haccettepe University, Turkey; Department of Health; University of Chester; University of Chester/Hedmark University College, Norway (Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2014-05-07)
      Background Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption is a goal for the UK. Therefore, the effectiveness of a fruit and vegetable voucher scheme coupled with key ‘5-a-day’ consumption messages as a brief intervention in primary care consultations was assessed in this study. Methods 1188 vouchers as a prescription for fruits and vegetables were routinely distributed to patients attending a primary health care centre in a deprived area, and 124 volunteer patients routinely attending the centre were included. Telephone based questionnaires were used to examine changes in consumption in the short and medium term. Other key aspects assessed in the evaluation related to fruit and vegetable purchasing behaviour, knowledge relating to what constitutes a portion size, the relationship between food and health, and barriers to consumption. Results Although 76.2% of participants used the prescription vouchers when purchasing fruits and vegetables, a significant change in the consumption or purchasing behaviour was not observed (p0.05). Participants’ level of knowledge relating to number of portions recommended and the portion size of different fruits and vegetables showed moderate increase from baseline to short term and to medium term. The primary barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption were reported as ‘the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables’ and ‘the money available to spend on food’. Conclusion The use of “the fruit and vegetable on prescription” scheme was an effective method of engaging participants in improving awareness of key diet related health messages. However, further intervention is required to produce a significant impact on the actual behaviour change. Keywords fruit and vegetable prescription, mainstreaming prevention, health settings