Produce Prescription Program For Diabetes: How It Works, Benefits, Who Is Eligible

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” (Hippocrates) is a famous quote, often used to highlight the significance of using food as medicine. 

Poor nutrition is responsible for about 50% of total cardiometabolic deaths in the United States, and low socioeconomic status is a key contributor to poor diet quality and unhealthy food choices. 

The bad eating habits of Americans cost about $50 billion per year, particularly in healthcare costs of cardiometabolic diseases, including diabetes, stroke, and heart problems. 

Produce prescription programs offer nutritious care for eligible patients, providing long-term health benefits and cost-effectiveness. 

A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association has revealed that produce prescription programs can prevent cardiovascular diseases and manage diabetes while saving billions of dollars in health care costs.

Let’s look deeper into this microsimulation study after discussing what a prescription program is and how it works.

What is a produce prescription program (PRx) for diabetes?

The produce prescription (PRx) program refers to the prescription-based availability of fruits and vegetables for eligible patients at special discounts or for free. 

Generally, it covers patients with diet-related health conditions or risks, such as heart problems and diabetes.

This type of program for diabetes provides an opportunity to treat patients with diet-sensitive diabetes, reducing its overall healthcare cost. 

The study on US produce prescription programs has revealed it led to a decrease in body mass index (BMI) by 0.36 kg/m2 and hemoglobin A1c by 0.6 points.

how to reverse type 2 diabetes

How does a produce prescription program work?

Produce prescription programs offer monetary compensation to increase the intake of fruits and vegetables, particularly among people diagnosed with diabetes. 

People with low socioeconomic status are the primary beneficiaries of produce programs. PRx programs for diabetes work in a step-by-step manner, as discussed below.

Step 1First, physicians usually screen and identify diabetic patients or those with a higher risk for diabetes.
Step 2In the next step, a physician may offer a prescription program if the patients cannot meet the financial burden of nutrient-rich foods.
Step 3Afterward, a physician provides a written prescription for nutrient-rich foods. Patients can use such prescriptions to obtain food items from affiliated stores at subsidized rates. These may include grocery stores, local markets, or community-supported shops.
AlternativesSome programs may also issue vouchers and debit or loyalty cards to obtain fruits and vegetables at subsidized rates. 

Benefits of produce programs for diabetics

Produce programs for diabetes are associated with certain monetary and health-related benefits, such as the following.

Lower healthcare costs

Produce prescription programs for diabetes are highly cost-effective from a financial view because they offer long-term health gains, reducing overall healthcare costs. 

According to an estimate based on the research study,  these programs can save about $39.6 billion in healthcare costs in the United States.

Better health quality and outcomes

Quality-adjusted life years measure the number of years of life in perfect health, representing the value of overall health outcomes. 

As per the same meta-analysis, produce programs can increase quality-adjusted life years by 260000 in the US. 

Reduced blood sugar levels

Maintenance of blood sugar levels is the primary goal in treating diabetes. Fortunately, the research study has revealed that produce prescription programs for diabetes can reduce HbA1c levels by 0.63%. 

Weight loss and reduced BMI

Research shows that obesity increases the risk of developing diabetes mellitus type-2. That’s why physicians often recommend dietary changes and physical activities to reduce weight among diabetics. 

The meta-analysis has also shown that produce prescription programs for diabetes can reduce body mass index (BMI) by 0.36/m2 per day. 

Lower blood pressure

About two-thirds of diabetic adults have also been diagnosed with high blood pressure. It poses a significant challenge for physicians to manage such patients without dietary interventions. 

Fortunately, produce prescription programs can significantly decrease the systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels.

Eating more fruits and vegetables

As produce programs offer fruits and vegetables at subsidized rates, their consumption would definitely increase among enrolled diabetic patients. 

According to a systematic review of 13 US-based produce programs, these programs can increase the intake of fruits and vegetables by 0.8 servings per day. 

Using these foods can benefit the long-term health management of diabetes in such patients.

Role of diet changes in diabetes management

Millions of Americans have limited access to healthy foods, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and affecting diabetes management. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it can lead to higher blood sugar levels, hospitalizations, poor mental health, and increased risk for diabetes-related complications.

On the other hand, eating healthy foods, including fruits and vegetables, can prevent diabetes and help its management. 

These foods are rich in fiber and antioxidants, which provide a protective barrier against diabetes. 

Considering these benefits, the National Institute of Health (NIH) has also endorsed the daily consumption of fruits and vegetables in its recommendations. 

Fortunately, produce prescription programs can provide subsidized access to fruits and vegetables, ensuring their availability for low-income diabetics.

Get Your FREE Diabetes Diet Plan

  • 15 foods to naturally lower blood sugar levels
  • 3 day sample meal plan
  • Designed exclusively by our nutritionist

By clicking “Download Now”, I agree to Ben's Natural Health Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.


Due to limited access to healthy foods or bad eating habits, poor nutrition costs billions of dollars in health care costs in the United States. 

Unfortunately, the leading cause of poor diet is low socioeconomic background. The produce prescription program for diabetes offers the availability of fruits and vegetables at subsidized rates to those who cannot afford otherwise. 

Moreover, studies have revealed that these programs can decrease the healthcare costs of diabetes management by saving billions of dollars. Thus, produce programs for diabetes provide both health and economic gains. 

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association has evaluated different aspects of implementing produce prescription programs for diabetes and recommended its establishment at a national level.

Explore More

best diet for diabetes

Control Type 2 Diabetes with Diet – Food List and Carbs Intake Ratio.


  1. Wang, Lu & Lauren, Brianna & Hager, Kurt & Zhang, Fang & Wong, John & Kim, David & Mozaffarian, Dariush. Health and Economic Impacts of Implementing Produce Prescription Programs for Diabetes in the United States: A Microsimulation Study. Journal of the American Heart Association. 12. 2023. 
  2. Laraia BA, Leak TM, Tester JM, Leung CW. Biobehavioral Factors That Shape Nutrition in Low-Income Populations: A Narrative Review. Am J Prev Med. 2017 Feb;52(2S2):S118-S126. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2016.08.003. PMID: 28109413; PMCID: PMC10281773.
  3. Bhat S, Coyle DH, Trieu K, Neal B, Mozaffarian D, Marklund M, Wu JHY. Healthy Food Prescription Programs and their Impact on Dietary Behavior and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Adv Nutr. 2021.
  4. CDC. Food and Nutrition Insecurity and Diabetes: Understanding the Connection.
  5. Sami W, Ansari T, Butt NS, Hamid MRA. Effect of diet on type 2 diabetes mellitus: A review. Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2017 Apr-Jun;11(2):65-71. PMID: 28539866; PMCID: PMC5426415.
  6. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetes Diet, Eating, & Physical Activity.

Top Products

Total Health


Glucose Control