Home environment and F&V consumption in children aged 6–12 years
It is known that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables (F&V) is essential for good health and preventing chronic disease. Still, a high proportion of Western countries’ children are still not meeting recommendations for F&V intake. Children’s homes are the immediate environment in which the child lives, grows and plays. Moreover, at this age, children enter primary school, become more independent, and are increasingly influenced by media and the school environment.
The major aim of this systematic review of 33 articles was to expand the understanding on the influence of the home environment that have been related to children’s F&V consumption among children aged between 6 to 12 years old.
Evidence for children’s F&V consumption:
Home physical environment : availability and accessibility of F&V
- The components of home physical environment are mostly represented by availability and accessibility of F&V and unhealthy food. Five studies have shown a positive association between accessibility and availability of F&V at home and children’s combined F&V consumption. Although, in some studies, home availability of F&V was more strongly and positively associated with fruit consumption1-5.
- Home sociocultural environment: parental role modelling of F&V and maternal intake of F&V
The most investigated home sociocultural environment components are parental modelling, parental intake and parental facilitation and support by cutting up and bringing F&V to school. Parental modelling refers to the parents being a role model through their intake and also includes their feeding attitude, eating styles and mealtime behaviors. This component was positively associated with children’s F&V consumption and with higher intakes of F&V6,7.Regarding parental intake, a study showed a positive association with children’s F&V consumption, especially in mothers8. Other studies reported an association between maternal intake and fruit but not vegetable consumption9,10.
However, fruit consumption was associated positively and strongly when cutting up fruit and bringing them to school, regardless of gender. Comparably, there was a strong and positive association between cutting up and bringing vegetables to school and girls’ vegetable consumption. Also, there was a correlation between cutting up and bringing vegetables to school and boys’ and girls’ vegetable consumption11.
- Home political environment: demand and allowance rules
Studies have shown that having demand rules was positively related to children’s fruit consumption, but had stronger and more consistent associations with their vegetable consumption. Compared with other components investigated, this association was the strongest and most consistent. However, there was no association between F&V consumption and allowance rules, but positive associations were found with vegetable consumption in girls and in combined boys and girls11.
Strategies to increase F&V consumption by targeting home environment
The systematic review concluded that we can promote F&V consumption by targeting the home environment. Examples of strategies include parental encouragement to eat more F&V, cutting F&V up, bringing them to school and enforcing demand rules at home. Interventions should also aim to improve parents’ consumption and not just children’s consumption.
Based on: Ong JX, Ullah S, Magarey A, Miller J, Leslie E. Relationship between the home environment and fruit and vegetable consumption in children aged 6–12 years.
Public Health Nutr 2017. 20(3): 464-480.
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