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Does An Apple a Day Really Keep The Doctor Away?

ORIGINAL ARTICLE FROM CBSNEWS.COM

Does an apple a day really keep the doctor away? The answer is a resounding No!

But it might keep the pharmacist away.

According to new research, those who eat apples daily still have similar amounts of doctor visits annually; however they are less likely to need a prescription.

The study, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, looks at data from nearly 8,400 people who took part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between the years 2007 and 2010.

Of those participants, 753 (9 percent) are apple eaters — at least one small apple per day — and the rest are non-apple eaters. People who reported to only consume apples in the form of juice, applesauce or pie are considered non-apple eaters for the purposes of this research.

About one-third of adults in the study say they had no more than one doctor visit in the previous year; the remainder reported at least two visits. A preliminary analysis found the “apple eaters” have slightly fewer visits than the “non-eaters” — those who ate less than one daily or no apples. But this difference disappears when the researchers consider weight, race, education, health insurance and other factors that influence frequency of medical visits.

The study is published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

“The promotion of apple consumption may have limited benefits in reducing national health care spending,” the authors conclude. This is based on the cost per pound of Red Delicious apples, and the typical amount Americans spend on prescriptions.

The researchers say it’s possible that convincing the 207.2 million “non-eaters” to have an apple a day may result in a net savings of as much $19.2 billion in healthcare costs.

The study is limited in that participants are self reporting their eating habits as well as it doesn’t take a big picture look at the the correlation of “apple eating” and “general wellness.” Could it be that people who choose to eat this nutritious fruit generally have healthier habits, like regular exercise and a balanced diet? While those who choose to consume the sugary apple juice, in lieu of the fruit, may not be making better choices for their health?

Either way, it seems that this small step of having a small apple a day can keep the pharmacist away. And that’s good enough to eat.