IFAVA International Fruit and Vegetable Alliance
Schools represent a unique setting for the promotion of fruit and vegetable intake in children: they reach large captive audiences and provide many opportunities to improve nutrition, including formal learning, feeding, as well as other activities such as cooking and gardening. In addition, school-based fruit and vegetable promotion programmes can in many cases be practical and implemented at low costs but they have to compete with other priorities in increasingly crowded curricula.
One important lesson learnt from other areas of public health point to the importance of creating an enabling environment within which public health can be promoted. It is thus important that an enabling school environment for fruit and vegetable consumption by children be generated. In developed countries, this might include a range of interventions from the inclusion of sufficient funding and policies for schools to provide adequate school food services including local fruit and vegetables, to reduced access to ‘junk food’ in schools to make the ‘healthier choice’ easier for children and consistent practice (at least in the school) of nutrition education lessons.
Evidence on the effectiveness of school-based interventions to promote fruit and vegetable intake (mostly from developed countries) indeed points to the benefits of comprehensive, multi-faceted approaches that include a long follow-up, increased exposure to fruit and vegetables among the whole school community, teacher training, integration within the curriculum, leadership and encouragement by peers and the school food service staff, and parents’ involvement at school and at home.
The articles in this 6th issue of the IFAVA newsletter provide insights into nutrition interventions in schools and education to promote fruit and vegetables. Lyne Blanchette and Johannes Brug discusses the determinants of fruit and vegetable consumption among young children and key components of interventions that are effective in increasing intake. Theresa Nicklas then describes the results of the school-based 5-a-day interventions for children and adolescents. Finally, Tom Baranowski discusses how games can be an important medium for reaching children.