Sorry, Mom: An Apple a Day Does Not Keep the Doctor Away, Says Research

It may reduce your use of prescription medication, but that doesn’t even rhyme!

by Michael Pomranz

Remember when you were a little kid and Mom used to tell you, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away?" And then remember when you became a snotty teenager and you told Mom she was an idiot? Well, turns out Mom was wrong, and you were right!

A team of researchers recently set out to see if the old apple rhyme actually held any water. After looking at over 8,000 participants, their study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, provided no statically significant proof that an apple a day actually leads to fewer doctor’s visits.

What researchers did uncover, however, was that apple eaters were “marginally more successful at avoiding prescription medications” than non-apple eaters. “Evidence does not support that an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” the study’s authors concluded, “however, the small fraction of US adults who eat an apple a day do appear to use fewer prescription medications.” Hopefully, Republicans are paying attention: Encouraging people to eat more apples might be a great Obamacare replacement.

As is often the case, more research is necessary. Though these findings certainly bring the old proverb into question, lead author Matthew Davis, a health services researcher at the University of Michigan, reminds us, “to really disprove it, you would need a different study design.”

One final fun fact: The saying is thought to have originated in Wales in the 1800s. To add some context, back then the idea of leeching people to remove impurities from blood hadn’t even been debunked, so, yeah, it’s probably fine to question their little apple rhyme.