a1 Nutritional Epidemiology Group, Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, The University of Leeds, 30/32 Hyde Terrace, Leeds, LS2 9LN, UK
a2 Airedale Primary Care Trust, Community Health Team, Millennium Park, Station Road, Steeton, Keighley, BD20 6RB, UK
a3 Bradford South & West Primary Care Trust, 10/11 Neville House, Neville Road, Bradford, BD4 8TU, UK
Background Longitudinal research has shown that eating fruit and vegetables during childhood has a positive impact on long-term health outcome from heart disease and asthma. However, recommendations for fruit and vegetable intakes in pre-school children are not as explicit as those for adults and few data exist on actual intakes of fruit and vegetables in this particular age group.
Aims To describe fruit and vegetable intakes in the daily diets of a sample of pre-school children in Bradford, West Yorkshire, and to compare the findings with existing national UK data.
Subjects Pre-school children aged 3 and 4 years (n = 207). All subjects attended nurseries in the Airedale and Bradford South and West regions at the time of the study.
Design Dietary data were collected using the pre-validated CADET (Child and Diet Evaluation Tool) diary. All children were also seen individually in order to assess their awareness and preference for a range of fruit and vegetables.
Results Intakes of fruit and vegetables in this sample of pre-school children were below recommended levels. Only 16% of children in this sample were successfully eating fruit and vegetables on five occasions a day and conversely 14% ate no fruit and vegetables at all. Vegetable intakes were far lower than fruit intakes with 39% of the sample consuming no vegetables. There were statistically significant differences in median fruit and vegetable intakes between children with different demographic and lifestyle variables, such as which nursery they attended and what the highest educational qualification in the household was. Children's awareness of and preferences for different fruit and vegetables significantly affected their median intakes of fruit and vegetables.
Conclusion Fruit and vegetable intakes in this sample of pre-school children were far lower than the recommended levels of 5 portions a day. A greater diversity of intakes should be encouraged and these data suggest that this may be attained by increasing children's awareness by exposing them to a wider range of fruit and vegetables.
(Received November 01 2004)
(Accepted March 15 2005)