A health-conscious prescription in Lakeville

Recently some Lakeville doctors have been giving out a new kind of prescription.Recently some Lakeville doctors have been giving out a new kind of prescription.

Children ages 2-17 who visit certain clinics for their annual checkups, including HealthPartners in Lakeville, may receive a $10 “prescription” for fruits and vegetables at Cub Foods.

The goal of program, in its fourth year, is to reach 20,000 families this summer by providing the chance for doctors to talk to kids and their parents about making better food choices.

“We start the discussion about healthy eating, and from there we try to use as a tool to open the discussion of the importance of getting five servings of fruit and vegetables per day,” said Ali

Peterson, a pediatrician with Park Nicollet Clinic in Lakeville.

Peterson said she also emphasizes the importance of drinking water and discusses the appropriate portion size for the individual children she sees.

Doctors giving out the prescriptions also provide families with healthy recipes and encourage kids to try new kinds of foods.

“I usually tell the child they should go with mom and dad to the supermarket, pick up some fruits and veggies that they haven’t tried recently,” Peterson said. “Because often kids become quite limited in what they will eat.”

Peterson said research shows less than 25 percent of children in the U.S. get five servings of fruits and vegetables per day in their diets.

She said over the years the program has proven beneficial to kids and their parents.

“They’re so excited,” Peterson said, “Kids come back and say, ‘Guess what, I tried blueberries for the first time,’ and that’s so cool because a lot of parents will say, ‘You know, I can’t afford blueberries, I buy the typical apple,’ so this allows them a little more flexibility.”
She said families can get coupons for all their children, which can add up to $20 or more at the grocery store.

“The most important thing is trying to get kids interested in having a colorful plate with lots of fruits and veggies and a variety of foods every meal,” Peterson said.

She said healthy eating as a child leads to a good, healthy habit throughout their lives.

“It’s a big opportunity to set down a foundation for kids in terms of healthy eating in a fun, exciting way,” Peterson said.  The prescription program will continue through Sept. 30.