The New York Times published an article on 12-1-14 about an innovative program in New York which encourages children to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables in order to respond to childhood health problems, including obesity and diabetes. The article, “Prescribing Vegetables, Not Pills,” is by the highly regarded health journalist, Jane Brody. She noted that this program is “a startingly simple idea to deal with complex problem,” and went on to report that outcomes research has found that after just four months in the program 40% of the participating children had a lowered BMI.
In addition to “prescribing” fruits and vegetables, the program provides funding to help people with less financial means be able to afford what is well known to be a more expensive meal plan. Obviously, most psychologists and other behavioral specialists don’t have access to the financial resources that this would require. On the other hand, when working with children, and probably people of all ages, with problems related to obesity, it would be advisable for us to inquire about how much fruit and vegetables they, and their family, are consuming and to encourage, or “prescribed,” increasing their intake. Also, being knowledgeable about this research is likely to help us promote expanding the practice of behavioral services by coordinating care with primary medical providers. One of the most common medical problems that they deal with is obesity, and related problems, but they often do not have the time, resources, and skills to help their patients with behavioral changes, and obviously offering collaboration to them could potentially be a winner for all-the PMP’s get help with some of their most complex and challenging patients, we expand the practice of behavioral health services, and, most importantly, the patient’s get help with their health problems. Also, many patients with these types of help problems have mental health concerns that are either a result of the health problems or contributing to the health problems.
In any case, what can sound, the surface, like research that is strictly “medical” can be helpful to behavioral providers who are interested in wellness issues and collaborating with PMP’s.