“Children nutritionnal needs: sChool meals or paCked lunChes?”
The need to increase F&V availability at school
Low consumption of fruit and vegetables (F&V) is a worrying phenomenon among children. According to the Pro-Children study financed by the European Commission, in average only 17.6% of the 11-year-old children reach the WHO minimum recommended level of 400g/day.
One of the reasons of low F&V consumption by children is their apparent lack of availability. According to the same study, only 22% of children reported good availability at school and during leisure-time activities.
Improving the eating habits of children and adolescents is an important strategy for improving public health. Increased F&V consumption can have an immediate effect on maintaining a healthy body weight and reducing the risk of certain diseases over the longer term. Interventions targeting healthy nutrition need to occur early in childhood or during adolescence, in order to prevent or reverse the adverse health effects of overweight and poor eating habits.
This highlights the importance of ensuring an appropriate availability of F&V at school. Schools can reach almost all children and adolescents during their first decades of life and are a critical part of the social environment that shape young people’s behavior. The European school fruit scheme with an annual budget of €90 million should generate positive effects and bring benefits to schoolchildren, their parents and teachers as regards increased availability of F&V.