Influence of F&V school
Schools should be in the front line in health promotion
Schools seem to be ideal settings to form children’s behaviour. They reach most children for a number of years at a critical age when habits are still being evolved. They are the places where children spend most of their time in contact with qualified personnel to teach and guide. Besides, teachers and other school personnel are often role models for students, and also what is learnt here may have multiple effects by being taken home to influence behaviours in the family.
If we check the evidence, school-based interventions mostly target younger children and there are much less initiatives devoted to improve nutrition in older ages. This is on one hand right as children need to learn about healthy food as early as possible. On the other hand, it is unfortunate as we know that unhealthy dietary habits are more frequent in older age groups. The first paper in the current issue presents an initiative which is facing the challenge of encouraging fruit and vegetable consumption in first-year college students. Transition periods usually bring unhealthy behaviours on their train. Mathews and colleagues are investigating whether gardening can be an efficient strategy to reverse this tendency. The next two papers discuss the value of a cooking and a salad bar program, both designed for younger children.
These papers can inspire those who would like to act and underline the mantra of “war against unhealthy diet starts at home, but schools have a key role to play”.