Veggie Rx: an outcome evaluation of a healthy food incentive programme

Public Health Nutr. 2017 Oct;20(14):2636-2641. doi: 10.1017/S1368980016002081. Epub 2016 Aug 19.


Objective: One challenge to healthy nutrition, especially among low-income individuals, is access to and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. To address this problem, Veggie Rx, a healthy food incentive programme, was established within a community clinic to increase access to fresh produce for low-income patients diagnosed with obesity, hypertension and/or type 2 diabetes. The current research aimed to evaluate Veggie Rx programme effectiveness.

Design: A retrospective pre/post design using medical records and programme data was used to evaluate the programme. The study was approved by the University of Albany Institutional Review Board and the Patient Interest Committee of a community clinic.

Setting: The study was conducted in a low-income, urban neighbourhood in upstate New York.

Subjects: Medical record data and Veggie Rx programme data were analysed for fifty-four eligible participants. An equal-sized control group of patients who were not programme participants were matched on age, ethnicity and co-morbidity status.

Results: A statistically significant difference in mean BMI change (P=0·02) between the intervention and the control group was calculated. The intervention group had a mean decrease in BMI of 0·74 kg/m2.

Conclusions: Greater improvement in BMI was found among Veggie Rx programme participants. This information will guide programme changes and inform the field on the effectiveness of healthy food incentive programmes for improving health outcomes for low-income populations.

Keywords: BMI; Community health centres; Food access; Health promotion; Healthy food incentive programme; Obesity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Food Supply
  • Fruit
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology*
  • Motivation*
  • New York
  • Nutritional Status
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Poverty
  • Program Evaluation
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urban Population
  • Vegetables