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To describe fruit and vegetable intake of 11-year-old children in ten European countries and compare it with current dietary guidelines.
Cross-sectional survey. Intake was assessed using a previously validated questionnaire containing a pre-coded 24 h recall and an FFQ which were completed in the classroom. Portion sizes were calculated using a standardized protocol.
Surveys were performed in schools regionally selected in eight countries and nationally representative in two countries.
A total of 8158 children from 236 schools across Europe participating in the PRO GREENS project.
The total mean consumption of fruit and vegetables was between 220 and 345 g/d in the ten participating countries. Mean intakes did not reach the WHO population goal of ≥400 g/d in any of the participating countries. Girls had a significantly higher intake of total fruit and vegetables than boys in five of the countries (Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Bulgaria and Slovenia). Mean total fruit intake ranged between 114 and 240 g/d and vegetable intake between 73 and 141 g/d. When using the level ≥400 g/d as a cut-off, only 23·5 % (13·8–37·0 %) of the studied children, depending on country and gender, met the WHO recommendation (fruit juice excluded).
Fruit and vegetable consumption was below recommended levels among the schoolchildren in all countries and vegetable intake was lower than fruit intake. The survey shows that there is a need for promotional activities to improve fruit and vegetable consumption in this age group.
To examine which factors act as mediators between parental educational level and children's fruit and vegetable (F&V) intake in ten European countries.
Cross-sectional data were collected in ten European countries participating in the PRO GREENS project (2009). Schoolchildren completed a validated FFQ about their daily F&V intake and filled in a questionnaire about availability of F&V at home, parental facilitation of F&V intake, knowledge of recommendations about F&V intake, self-efficacy to eat F&V and liking for F&V. Parental educational level was determined from a questionnaire given to parents. The associations were examined with multilevel mediation analyses.
Schools in Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden.
Eleven-year-old children (n 8159, response rate 72%) and their parents.
In five of the ten countries, children with higher educated parents were more likely to report eating fruits daily. This association was mainly mediated by knowledge but self-efficacy, liking, availability and facilitation also acted as mediators in some countries. Parents’ education was positively associated with their children's daily vegetable intake in seven countries, with knowledge and availability being the strongest mediators and self-efficacy and liking acting as mediators to some degree.
Parental educational level correlated positively with children's daily F&V intake in most countries and the pattern of mediation varied among the participating countries. Future intervention studies that endeavour to decrease the educational-level differences in F&V intake should take into account country-specific features in the relevant determinants of F&V intake.
To determine whether an association exists between different clusters of fruit- and vegetable-specific family-environmental factors and children's daily fruit and vegetable intake, and whether these associations differ between countries with different school lunch policies.
Cross-sectional data from four European countries participating in the Pro Greens project in 2009. These countries have different school food policies: two serve free school lunches and two do not. Self-administered data were used. Food frequency questions served to assess fruit and vegetable intakes. The study assessed sixteen children-perceived family-environmental factors, which were clustered based on principal component analysis into five sum variables: fruit and vegetable encouragement; vegetable modelling, family routine and demand; fruit modelling; fruit and vegetable snacking practices; and fruit and vegetable allowing.
Schools in Finland, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.
Schoolchildren aged 11 years (n 3317).
Multilevel logistic regression analyses revealed positive associations between nearly all clustered family-environmental factors and daily fruit and vegetable intake. The study tested a moderation effect between family-environmental factors and school lunch policy. In five out of twenty models significant interactions occurred. In the stratified analyses, most of the associations between family-environmental factors and raw and cooked vegetable intake were stronger in Germany and the Netherlands, neither of which provided free school lunches.
Children reporting more fruit- and vegetable-promoting family-environmental factors had a more frequent intake of fruits and vegetables; the associations were stronger for vegetable intakes in countries providing no free school lunches, suggesting that parental involvement is crucial when schools offer no vegetables.
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