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Positive impact of a pre-school-based nutritional intervention on children's fruit and vegetable intake: results of a cluster-randomized trial

  • Freia De Bock (a1) (a2), Luise Breitenstein (a1) and Joachim E Fischer (a1)

Abstract

Objective

To assess the short-term impact of a nutritional intervention aimed at reducing childhood overweight in German pre-school children.

Design

Using a cluster-randomized study design with waiting-list controls, we tested a 6-month intervention administered once weekly by a nutrition expert consisting of joint meal preparation and activities for children and parents such as tasting and preparing nutritious, fresh foods. At baseline, 6 and 12 months, a parent-completed questionnaire assessed fruit and vegetable intakes (primary outcomes) and water and sugared drinks consumption (secondary outcomes). Direct measurement assessed BMI, skinfold thickness and waist-to-height-ratio. An intention-to-treat analysis used random-effects panel regression models to assess the intervention effect, adjusted for each child's age, gender, immigrant background and maternal education.

Setting

Eighteen pre-schools from three south German regions.

Subjects

Healthy children aged 3–6 years.

Results

Three hundred and seventy-seven (80 %) eligible pre-school children participated in the study. Of these, 348 provided sufficient data for analysis. The sample mean age was 4·26 (sd 0·78) years; the majority (53·2 %) were boys. Children's fruit and vegetable intakes increased significantly (P < 0·001 and P < 0·05, respectively); no significant changes in the consumption of water, sugared drinks or anthropometric measurements were noted.

Conclusions

Nutritional interventions in pre-schools have the potential to change eating behaviours in young children, which in the long term might reduce risk for developing overweight.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Email freia.debock@medma.uni-heidelberg.de

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