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To assess the impact of a school-based nutrition education intervention aimed at increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables.
The intervention programme increased the provision of fruits and vegetables in schools and provided a range of point-of-purchase marketing materials, newsletters for children and parents, and teacher information. Curriculum materials at age 6–7 and 10–11 years were also developed and utilised. Evaluation was undertaken with groups of younger (aged 6–7 years) and older (aged 10–11 years) children. Methods included 3-day dietary records with interview and cognitive and attitudinal measures at baseline, with follow-up at 9 months, in intervention and control schools.
The work was undertaken in primary schools in Dundee, Scotland.
Subjects comprised 511 children in two intervention schools with a further 464 children from two schools acting as controls.
Children (n = 64) in the intervention schools had an average increase in fruit intake (133±1.9 to 183±17.0 g day-1) that was significantly (P < 0.05) greater than the increase (100±11.7 to 107±14.2 g day-1) estimated in children (n = 65) in control schools. No other changes in food or nutrient intake were detected. Increases in scores for variables relating to knowledge about fruits and vegetables and subjective norms were also greater in the intervention than in the control group, although taste preferences for fruits and vegetables were unchanged.
It is concluded that a whole school approach to increasing intakes of fruits and vegetables has a modest but significant effect on cognitive and attitudinal variables and on fruit intake.
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