Fruits and Vegetables/Practice


Increased Access to Healthy Food

Action steps to increase access to healthy food include:

  1. Increase high nutrient low density foods in cafeteria and mobile vending

    Healthcare settings are unique and powerful vehicles to encourage staff, patients, and surrounding community members to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors. By eliminating or reducing barriers to healthy foods, hospitals and other healthcare facilities can positively impact the nutrition patterns of anyone encountering the environment.

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  2. Bring farm stands or markets to your hospital/clinical setting.

    Farmers' markets are a popular method for increasing access to healthy fresh food and provide a market for local farmers.  Worksites can demonstrate leadership in health promotion by hosting farmers' markets or farm stands on-site.

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  3. Know your community and identify locations where affordable fresh fruits and vegetables are readily available in order to better serve your patients.

    Understanding the local food supply and availability of affordable healthy foods will improve your ability to counsel patients and their families on healthy eating.

    Recommended by: Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report: Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies

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  4. Understand the national food programs and identify local resources to better serve your patients who are food insecure.

    Nutrition assistance programs provide children and lower-income people access to food for a healthful diet. Knowing about the food and nutrition services available to food insecure families will improve your ability to counsel food insecure patients and their families about healthy eating. Recent revisions to the WIC food package increased the amount of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables participants receive, making it even easier for lower-income mothers and children to eat the healthy foods recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

    Recommended by: Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report: Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies


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  5. Model healthy eating in your practice.

    Physicians and other medical professionals are role models for their patients. Physicians who screen and counsel their patients on nutrition and physical activity habits can influence patient behavior by example. In addition, health providers can influence organizational policies and practices to promote healthy eating and activity within their clinical facility. For example:

    • Provide healthy food options for employees during the workday and at all meetings
    • Discourage sugared beverage consumption by employees by prohibiting consumption in areas visible by patients
    • Do not offer sugared or unhealthy treats or beverages to patients (i.e. lollipops)
    • Do not allow any marketing of food or beverages to children/adolescents

    Recommended by:AAP Policy: Active Healthy Living: Prevention of Childhood Obesity through Increased Physical Activity

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Limit Unhealthy Foods

Action steps to limit unhealthy foods include:

  1. Eliminate high energy, low-nutrient foods from clinical setting

    Healthcare settings are unique and powerful environments to encourage staff, patients, and surrounding community members to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors. By eliminating or reducing barriers to healthy foods, hospitals and other healthcare environments can positively impact the nutrition patterns of employees and patients. Equally important is limiting access to unhealthy foods. Hospitals should be a role model for other institutions by offering a variety of healthy foods and eliminating fast food options.

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Point of Purchase

Action steps to increase access to healthy food include:

  1. Require menu labeling in hospital cafeterias and vending sites to provide consumers with calorie information on menus and menu boards.

    Eating out more frequently, especially at fast food restaurants, is associated with obesity. Without clear, easy-to-use nutrition information at the point of ordering, it is difficult to make informed choices at restaurants. Preliminary findings from localities that have instituted menu labeling show that consumers may choose more healthy options when they are informed about the nutritional quality of offerings.

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Media Campaign

Action steps regarding media include:

  1. Promote healthy food and drink choices in clinical setting via posters, brochures, flyers, displays, etc.

    Media can be a key element to increase awareness and motivation and can be used to promote healthy eating, portion size awareness, eating fewer calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods and to raise awareness of weight as a health issue.

    Recommended by: Institute of Medicine Report: Local Actions to Prevent Childhood Obesity


  2. Limit marketing of unhealthy foods to patients and their families.

    According to the Institute of Medicine, food and beverage marketing practices geared to children and youth are out of balance with healthful diets and contribute to an environment that puts their health at risk. Clinics and hospitals should ban marketing and promotion of unhealthy foods and beverages in their clinic setting.

    Recommended by: For more information: Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI): Guidelines for Responsible Food Marketing to Children‚Äč