Publications

Exploring feasibility and impact of different approaches to enhance children’s fruit and vegetable consumption

Zeinstra, Gertrude; Haar, Sandra van der; Willemsen-Regelink, Marlies; Haveman-Nies, Annemien

Summary

Introduction: European children’s fruit & vegetable consumption is below the recommendations. Due to the large reach and learning environment, schools are an excellent setting to promote healthy eating habits. Therefore, this project explored the feasibility and impact of different approaches to enhance Dutch children’s fruit and vegetable (=F&V) consumption at primary school. Methods: A filled F&V bowl as new concept was tested in fourteen school classes for at least three weeks. Experiences were evaluated via teacher interviews (N=12), focus group discussions with children (N=2) and classroom observations (N=7). An attractive and handy F&V box was tested in six school classes. Children received a F&V box with a F&V picture as nudge, information letters were sent to parents and children received games about F&V for a six-week period. Another six school classes (other schools) served as control. Experiences were evaluated via parental questionnaires (N=43), focus group discussions with children (N=2), teacher interviews (N=6) and weighing children’s F&V portions pre and post intervention (N=196).Results: The F&V bowl was appreciated for its attractive presentation, high accessibility, variety and increased autonomy for children. A few disadvantages came up, such as additional work for teachers and the risk of overconsumption. Both teachers and children thought that the F&V bowl would enhance children’s consumption, which was confirmed by the observations. The F&V box was perceived as attractive, handy and a nice gadget. Nevertheless, daily use of the box was low. The intervention did not change children’s F&V portions: before and after the intervention, both intervention and control children brought on average 60 gram F&V to school. Discussion: Both approaches were appreciated and perceived as feasible. Whereas the F&V box intervention was probably not strong enough to increase children’s F&V consumption, the F&V bowl seemed to have potential to increase children’s F&V consumption.