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The effects of a fruit and vegetable promotion intervention on unhealthy snacks during mid-morning school breaks: results of the Dutch Schoolgruiten Project

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Abstract Background: 

Ample fruit and vegetable (F&V) intake has been associated with a decreased risk of chronic disease. The health-enhancing effects of increased F&V consumption, however, would be even more apparent if the increased F&V consumption additionally led to a lower intake of unhealthy, high calorie snacks. Therefore, the present study aimed to investigate whether a primary school-based intervention (the Dutch Schoolgruiten Project) that promoted F&V intake could additionally reduce the intake of unhealthy, high calorie snacks during school breaks. Methods: 

The study applied a longitudinal design with baseline and two follow-up measurements. Children were aged 9–10 years old at baseline; 705 children were included. The main strategy was a F&V scheme that improved the availability, accessibility and exposure to F&V at school by providing one serving of fruit or vegetables twice a week at no cost. The amounts of F&V and unhealthy snacks for consumption at school were measured using a single-item question included in a questionnaire. Multilevel autoregressive logistic regression models with a three-level structure (school, child and time) were used to assess the effect of the intervention on both F&V and unhealthy snack consumption. Results: 

The children of the intervention group brought F&V from home to school at follow-up significantly more often than the children of the control schools [odds ratio (OR) = 1.41, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.04; 1.90] and brought fewer unhealthy snacks (OR = 0.56, 95% CI = 0.34; 0.92). Conclusion: 

The present study provides some evidence that the Schoolgruiten intervention effect on F&V intake also reduced unhealthy snacking during school breaks.

Keywords: F&V consumption; intervention; replacement; schoolchildren; unhealthy snacks

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands 2: Department of Public and Occupational Health, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Publication date: December 1, 2010


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