Public Health Nutrition

HOT TOPIC – School food

Increasing children's lunchtime consumption of fruit and vegetables: an evaluation of the Food Dudes programme

Dominic Uptona1 c1, Penney Uptona1 and Charlotte Taylora1

a1 Institute of Health and Society, University of Worcester, Henwick Grove, Worcester WR2 6AJ, UK

Abstract

Objectives Although previous research has shown that the Food Dudes programme increases children's fruit and vegetable consumption at school, there has been limited evaluation of the extent to which changes are maintained in the long term. Furthermore, despite knowledge that the nutritional content of home-supplied meals is lower than that of school-supplied meals, little consideration has been given to the programme's impact on meals provided from home. The present study therefore assessed the long-term effectiveness of the Food Dudes programme for both school- and home-supplied lunches.

Design Two cohorts of children participated, one receiving the Food Dudes intervention and a matched control group who did not receive any intervention. Consumption of fruit and vegetables was assessed pre-intervention, then at 3 and 12 months post-intervention. Consumption was measured across five consecutive days in each school using weighed intake (school-provided meals) and digital photography (home-provided meals).

Setting Fifteen primary schools, six intervention (n 1282) and seven control schools (n 1151).

Subjects Participants were children aged 4–11 years.

Results A significant increase in the consumption of fruit and vegetables was found at 3 months for children in the intervention schools, but only for those eating school-supplied lunches. However, increases were not maintained at 12 months.

Conclusions The Food Dudes programme has a limited effect in producing even short-term changes in children's fruit and vegetable consumption at lunchtime. Further development work is required to ensure the short- and long-term effectiveness of interventions promoting fruit and vegetable consumption in children such as the Food Dudes programme.

(Received February 01 2012)

(Revised June 29 2012)

(Accepted August 24 2012)

(Online publication October 16 2012)

Keywords

  • Child;
  • Fruit;
  • Health behaviour;
  • Vegetables

Correspondence

c1 Corresponding author: Email p.upton@worc.ac.uk

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