Increasing fruit and vegetable intake among children: comparing long-term effects of a free distribution and a multicomponent program

E. Reinaerts*, R.M.M. Crutzen, M.J.J.M. Candel, N.K. de Vries, J. de Nooijer

*Corresponding author for this work

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The aim of this study was to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of two primary school-based interventions on children's fruit and vegetable (F&V) consumption on the long term (2 years after the start of the interventions). Six primary schools were recruited and randomly assigned to (i) a daily free distribution program for the whole school or (ii) a multicomponent program consisting of a classroom curriculum and parental involvement (without free F&V), and six schools served as controls. Follow-up measurements were conducted at the end of the intervention (Follow-up I) and 1 year later (Follow-up II). Random coefficient analyses for longitudinal data showed that the effects of both interventions did not differ between the two follow-up measurements. The results showed similar effects for the free distribution program and the multicomponent program in increasing children's fruit consumption over time (respectively, 7.2 and 15.2 g day(-1)). The distribution program also increased children's vegetable consumption over time (3.25 g day(-1)), even after repeating the analyses using a pessimistic scenario. Despite the large dropout and its consequences for generalizability of our results, the distribution program is considered as the preferred intervention of the two, and implementation on a larger scale should be investigated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)987-96
JournalHealth Education Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008

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