One reason why fast food restaurants are so appealing to low income families is because of the amount of food a family can get for a dollar. Families with limited amount of money to spend on food often rely on cheaper, higher calorie foods in order to maximize calorie intake for amount of money spent. This can cause over consumption of calories and an unhealthy diet that leads to obesity and other health problems. A new pilot program in Boston hopes to compete with fast food. By making healthy food less expensive, it is now possible for low-income families to afford the healthier option.
In this effort to combat obesity in children, doctors at three health centers in Boston are encouraging children of low-income families to use local farmers’ markets as a preventative approach to health problems. Doctors are providing coupons amounting to $1 a day for each member of a patient’s family to be used on healthy options at these markets. The goal is to amend eating habits. The doctors hope to augment the amount of fruits and vegetables the kids are familiar with and will eat and increase their intake of fruit and vegetables by one serving a day.
This program is a great effort to make healthy food more affordable; though can it have a long-term influence on reducing obesity? The program not only relies on families getting to the markets to use the coupons, but also on families increasing their fruits and vegetable consumption and cutting back on their intake of junk food. It may take more than just a voucher for healthy foods to alter many years worth of poor eating habits.
Access to the markets also raises a concern. Lowering food cost can only be successful if the families are able to get to the fresh food; and what will happen once the farmers’ market season ends? Will the families revert back to their old snack habits without the access to affordable healthy food during the winter?
The doctors will be monitoring participants from 50 families, determining the effects on eating patterns and health indicators such as body mass index (BMI).
To read about the program, click below.