Interventions in schools to increase Fruit and Vegetable consumption
Low fruit and vegetable intake is known to be associated with poor health, particularly cardiovascular disease and cancer. With the worldwide increase in childhood obesity, and increased risk of non-communicable diseases, there is recognition that children’s diets need to be improved. Schools appear to be an ideal environment to focus interventions designed to increase fruit and vegetable intake.
The studies in this newsletter show that school fruit and vegetable interventions are effective. This is supported by our new literature review of school-based fruit and vegetable interventions and programmes worldwide which includes 37 studies (http://www.lshtm.ac.uk/ecohost/projects/schoolfv.htm).
A majority of these studies (70%) produced a significant positive effect on children’s fruit and vegetable intake in both older and younger age groups. These studies included a range of interventions including increasing fruit and vegetable availability as part of snack or meal programmes, nutrition promotion or integrating education together with increased accessibility to fruit and vegetables. A range of approaches increase intake. The relevant approach will depend on the local context including differences in local education systems and cultural preferences.
As new proposals for an EU School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme are assessed, we hope that the success shown by school schemes are recognised as an important mechanism to improve public health.