Public Health Nutrition

HOT TOPIC – National dietary guidelines

Effects of a school-based intervention on adherence of 7–9-year-olds to food-based dietary guidelines and intake of nutrients

Asa G Kristjansdottira1, Erlingur Johannssona2 and Inga Thorsdottira1 c1

a1 Faculty of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Unit for Nutrition Research, Landspitali-University Hospital, School of Health Sciences, University of Iceland, IS-101 Reykjavik, Iceland

a2 Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, School of Education, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland


Objective To assess the effects of a school-based intervention on the diets of 7–9-year-olds.

Design Dietary intake of children in second and fourth grades was assessed with 3d weighed dietary records in autumn 2006 and autumn 2008, before and after a school-based intervention that started in the middle of second grade, and compared with control schools with no intervention. The diet was evaluated by comparison with food-based dietary guidelines (FBDG) and reference values for nutrient intake. The intervention aimed at several determinants of intake: knowledge, awareness, preferences/taste, self-efficacy and parental influence. Nutrition education material was developed for the intervention and implemented in collaboration with teachers. The main focus of the intervention was on fruit and vegetable intake as the children’s intake was far from meeting the FBDG on fruit and vegetables at baseline.

Setting Elementary schools in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Subjects Complete dietary records were available for 106 children both at baseline and follow-up.

Results Total fruit and vegetable intake increased by 47 % in the intervention schools (mean: 61·3 (sd 126·4) g/d) and decreased by 27 % in the control schools (mean: 46·5 (sd 105·3) g/d; P < 0·001). The majority of the children in the intervention schools did still not meet the FBDG on fruits and vegetables at follow-up. Fibre intake increased significantly in the intervention schools, as well as that of potassium, magnesium, β-carotene and vitamin C (borderline).

Conclusions The school-based intervention in 7–9-year-olds was effective in increasing fruit and vegetable intake, by 47 % increase from baseline, which was mirrored in nutrient intake.

(Received June 26 2009)

(Accepted February 04 2010)

(Online publication April 22 2010)


c1 Corresponding author: Email