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JAMA Intern Med. 2015 May;175(5):777-83. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.5466.

Association between apple consumption and physician visits: appealing the conventional wisdom that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Author information

1
The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Lebanon, New Hampshire2Division of Systems Leadership and Effectiveness Science, University of Michigan School of Nursing, Ann Arbor.
2
The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Lebanon, New Hampshire.
3
The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Lebanon, New Hampshire3Veteran Affairs Medical Center Outcomes Group, White River Junction, Vermont.

Abstract

IMPORTANCE:

Fruit consumption is believed to have beneficial health effects, and some claim, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away."

OBJECTIVE:

To examine the relationship between eating an apple a day and keeping the doctor away.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS:

A cross-sectional study of a nationally representative sample of the noninstitutionalized US adult population. A total of 8728 adults 18 years and older from the 2007-2008 and 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey completed a 24-hour dietary recall questionnaire and reported that the quantity of food they ate was reflective of their usual daily diet.

EXPOSURES:

Daily apple eaters (consuming the equivalent of at least 1 small apple daily, or 149 g of raw apple) vs non-apple eaters, based on the reported quantity of whole apple consumed during the 24-hour dietary recall period.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES:

The primary outcome measure was success at "keeping the doctor away," measured as no more than 1 visit (self-reported) to a physician during the past year; secondary outcomes included successful avoidance of other health care services (ie, no overnight hospital stays, visits to a mental health professional, or prescription medications).

RESULTS:

Of 8399 eligible study participants who completed the dietary recall questionnaire, we identified 753 adult apple eaters (9.0%)--those who typically consume at least 1 small apple per day. Compared with the 7646 non-apple eaters (91.0%), apple eaters had higher educational attainment, were more likely to be from a racial or ethnic minority, and were less likely to smoke (P<.001 for each comparison). Apple eaters were more likely, in the crude analysis, to keep the doctor (and prescription medications) away: 39.0% of apple eaters avoided physician visits vs 33.9% of non-apple eaters (P=.03). After adjusting for sociodemographic and health-related characteristics, however, the association was no longer statistically significant (OR, 1.19; 95% CI, 0.93-1.53; P=.15). In the adjusted analysis, apple eaters also remained marginally more successful at avoiding prescription medications (odds ratio, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.00-1.63). There were no differences seen in overnight hospital stay or mental health visits.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE:

Evidence does not support that an apple a day keeps the doctor away; however, the small fraction of US adults who eat an apple a day do appear to use fewer prescription medications.

PMID:
25822137
PMCID:
PMC4420713
DOI:
10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.5466
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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