USDA Fruit and Vegetable Program Stops Childhood Obesity

In July of 2015, the University of Arkansas released the results from a new study on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. The program is intended to help elementary schools increase the amount of fruit and vegetables offered to students. The USDA believes this program can help our children overcome many of the challenges with childhood obesity.

University of Arkansas Research Study

U of A sampled elementary schools throughout their state once the FFVP began. They found that childhood obesity rates dropped from 20% to 17%. While it is early in the program, this is some of the first research to support the idea that fruit and vegetable consumption can lead to decreases in weight.

The study calculated that the fruit and vegetable program costs were about $50 to $75 per child per year to reduce the obesity rate by 3 percent. That’s a staggeringly small cost compared to the $280 to $339 per-student per-year cost of an effort to reduce childhood obesity by just 1 percent as estimated by other researchers in 2011.

“By this measure, our results suggest that the fresh fruit and vegetable program is a very cost-effective obesity prevention tool,” Nayga said. “Moreover, prevention of childhood obesity is in addition to the other nutritional benefits that come from increased fruit and vegetable consumption.”

Qian, Nayga, and Thomsen worked with Arkansas Center for Health Improvement research director Heather Rouse. Their work was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Arkansas Biosciences Institute. The study was published in the June 2015 journal Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy.

For the full article: Childhood Obesity Study

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